Heads were turned earlier this month (August 5, 2014) when news broke that No. 8-ranked UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt had supposedly been “cut” prior to his UFC Fight Night 52 bout with No. 9 Roy Nelson from Saitama, Japan.
UFC President Dana White was quick to remedy the situation with an emphatic “Hell no,” when asked if Hunt had been released, signifying that fan favorite Hunt was obviously still employed with the UFC. The finding was no surprise given Hunt’s propensity to put on some of the most hard-hitting and exciting brawls in the Octagon.
Today, news comes that the UFC has rewarded him for his services, signing “The Super Samoan” to a new six-fight contract extension. Ariel Helwani had the details on UFC Tonight:
“Well everything’s okay now; he actually just signed a new six-fight contract with the UFC. Of course he’s fighting Roy Nelson later on next month in Saitama, Japan, and he actually told me that he’s very happy with the new six-fight deal, so all this talk about him retiring sooner rather than later, it’s not true anymore.
In fact, he plans on fulfilling that contract, fighting all six fights, and then retiring, so it sounds like we’re going to be seeing a lot more of “The Super Samoan,” for at least the next couple years.”
It was a no-brainer signing for the UFC, who could definitely use Hunt’s power punching in the stagnating UFC heavyweight division, which hasn’t had the belt defended since Cain Velasquez battered former champion Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC 166 last October. Neither top-ranked fighter has fought since, but Velasquez will defend his belt against No. 1 contender Fabricio Werdum at November 15’s UFC 180 from Mexico City, Mexico.
If Hunt can finish the iron-chinned Nelson in Japan, he could be on a short list of contenders for the UFC heavyweight title. He already lost to dos Santos at UFC 160 in May of 2013, so perhaps a rematch with “Cigano,” whose return to action is still unknown, as one of the six fights left on his new contract (and perhaps his career).
Either way, we haven’t seen the last of the slugging “Super Samoan” just yet.
Photo: Bruce Fedyck for USA TODAY Sports