As an MMA fan, sometimes we pay for stories instead of fights. Last Saturday night, I didn’t plop down $54.95 to watch the first heavyweight title fight in thirteen months. I paid to see Mark Hunt shock the world and topple Fabricio Werdum on three weeks’ notice to become the interim champion as the UFC made their maiden voyage into the hardened fight mecca of Mexico. Unfortunately, Hunt would be denied his glass slipper.
It’s certainly not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination that Fabricio Werdum won the fight. However, something is tantalizing about the prospect of someone who doesn’t fit the traditional mold of their profession, defying the odds and becoming the best at what they do. This resonated even more since Hunt shatter his earlier reputation of being nothing more than a freak show fighter from the PRIDE days that the UFC didn’t even want on their roster initially.
Werdum was coming off his five-round destruction of Travis Browne and trained for over two months at altitude. Hunt knocked out the iron chinned Roy Nelson in Japan, took six weeks off, trained for three weeks, and was on the cusp of achieving greatness as he soundly won the first round, dropping Werdum several times and working effectively in the guard of the two-time jiu-jitsu world champion.
In an ironic twist, Mark Hunt was finished the very way he was expected to win. This speaks to the supreme talent of Fabricio Werdum, who has not only finished his last five opponents but did so by beating them at their own game.
Cain Velasquez will be the favorite going into their bout in 2015, and rightfully so, but I don’t believe it will be the one-sided slaughter by the champion that everyone is predicting. As for the “Super Samoan,” even in defeat, Hunt’s stock has increased to become a fixture that fans will clamor to see.