Mark Hunt will not replace Alistair Overeem at UFC 146Posted on April 15, 2012, 10:57 AM by Mike Drahota
It appears that the many fans lobbying to get Mark Hunt into the title fight at May's UFC 146 have fallen just short. The effort put forth by his fans was staggering and very respectful, but UFC President Dana White made it clear that Hunt will have to work his way up the ladder and best a top-tier Heavyweight in order to get a title shot. Not wanting to give anyone preferential treatment, White had the following to say on the issue:
"They can keep rallying. That ain't going to happen. Listen, Mark Hunt is going to have to fight one of the top guys. You don't just jump right into the title shot." - via mmajunkie.com
While Alistair Overeem is technically not suspended as of yet, he will come before the NSAC on April 24 to determine his licensing eligibility. Most are expecting him to be denied his license to fight in Nevada, so speculation of a title challenger still runs rampant. Frank Mir is believed to be the most deserving Heavyweight challenger available, but no announcement has been made. Hunt is still on schedule to face the young and surging Stefan Struve, something White supports. White continued:
"I have apologized and praised Mark Hunt for what he's been able to accomplish in the situation that he was in. I think this fight with Struve is a good fight for him. If he beats Struve, he'll break in and start fighting some of the top-five heavyweights in the world. But first of all, I've got to say, anything can happen in a fight, but in all reality, it's not fair to Mark Hunt either to put the guy right in there with a Junior Dos Santos for a title shot. The guy (ideally) works his way up, he beats Struve, fights somebody in the top-five."
White's words would suggest that he is very supportive of Hunt but also realistic, not wanting to throw Hunt to the wolves in a title fight he may or may not be ready for. Either way, the support that Hunt has garnered in the weeks following Overeem's failed drug test is staggering. When asked about the rallying effort, Hunt simply stated:
"I think they just like to see someone that's been down for such a long time and come back. Everyone has hard times. This whole planet is going through bad times. I think it's just that they like to see the underdog get some. It's always the other way around.”
Hunt seems to have a great attitude concerning the situation, and this should continue to increase his popularity with fans. He has built up momentum recently by beating Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell, and finally Cheick Kongo via knockout in Japan. Is he ready for the title shot? Or should he work his way up with a few more fights in the deep UFC Heavyweight division?
Further Reading: Frank Mir: I would feel slighted if someone else were picked to fight dos Santos