Hunt expects to turn Blaydes into a runner
Mark Hunt expects to give Curtis Blaydes an MMA lesson at UFC 221 in Perth today.
At 43, Hunt has seen it all in the fight game, while Blaydes is a 26-yearold who has been a professional only since 2014. Their scrap will serve as the co-main event on a blockbuster card that marks the first time the UFC has been to Perth.
“I’m not disrespecting Curtis but this weekend’s going to be a good weekend for him, he’s going to learn a lot,” Hunt told the Herald on Sunday.
Hunt (13-11-1, 1 NC) hasn’t been seen in the octagon since he beat Derrick Lewis (18-5, 1 NC) at UFC Fight Night 110 in Auckland in June last year.
The Kiwi was scheduled to meet Marcin Tybura (16-3) at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney in November but was removed from the booking due to health concerns following a firstperson piece penned by Hunt for PlayersVoice.
After a round of health checks by the UFC, he was given the green light to continue his lengthy combat sports career, which has led him to Perth.
“I’m looking forward to fighting. It’s my second training camp and everything’s gone well. I’ve got no injuries.”
Pegged at No 5 in the heavyweight rankings, Hunt maintains a burning desire to fight for the title but Blaydes (8-1, 1 NC) represents a stern test.
“I think it’s a good match-up for me,” the No 9-ranked Blaydes said. “I’m younger, faster, more athletic and a better grappler, so I think it plays well in to my hands.”
Blaydes was a decorated wrestler during his schooling and that will lay the platform for his game plan.
“I’m not taking him lightly at all. I’m ready to take the fight where it needs to go but I’m hoping to take it to the ground with a clean takedown and I’d like to end it down on the ground.” This is the blueprint that many of Hunt’s opponents have tried to follow and the veteran knows it will be coming from Blaydes, who trains in Denver after moving there from Chicago in 2016. ● UFC 221 will be headlined by an interim middleweight title bout between Luke Rockhold
Rockhold was meant to challenge New Zealand-born champion Robert Whittaker (19-4) but ‘The Reaper’ was forced off the card due to injury.
Kiwi combat sports dynamo Israel Adesanya (11-0) will make his UFC debut against Rob Wilkinson (11-1) in a middleweight battle.
Waikato welterweight Luke Jumeau (12-4) will open the card when he meets Daichi Abe (6-0).
Hunt, ‘The Super Samoan’, predicted big things for Adesanya. “He’s here now, he can ply his trade at the top end and he’s going to be trouble for a lot of guys in his division.”
● (16-3) and Yoel Romero
Mark Hunt is out to carve up Curtis Blaydes.