Hunt ex­pects to turn Blay­des into a run­ner

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - By Daniel Richard­son

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.

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