|UFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa|
Mark Hunt was born on March 23rd, 1974 in Auckland, New Zealand. After a street fight that saw Hunt handily take care of several attackers, bouncers at a nearby club immediately began trying to convince him to begin formal training. That was all the push that Hunt needed.
Hunt made his professional debut in the K-1 kickboxing league, winning the 2000 Oceania qualifying tournament in the process. He was immediately invited to fight to go to Japan to compete for a chance to join the K-1 World Grand Prix tournament. After losing his first fight to tough French fighter Jerome Le Banner by decision, Hunt was eliminated from contention.
The tough Samoan returned the following year to compete in the 2001 Oceania tournament, winning the event a second time, but not without a fight. After winning his first match against Japanese boxer Hiromi Amada, Hunt was defeated by reigning champion Ernesto Hoost. Instead of going home, Hunt was given a coveted wildcard spot and allowed to fight for a reentry into the contest. He lost again, this time to fellow New Zealander Ray Sefo, but was allowed to progress after Sefo was forced to drop out due to an eye injury. Hunt pulled off a TKO win over Australian boxer Adam Watt and earned his place in the semi-finals.
With the semi-final round opponents being decided by the finalists themselves, Hunt surprised everyone by announcing that he would take on highly rated fighter Jerome Le Banner in a rematch and title bout. Hunt pulled off an amazing TKO in the second round to formally advance to the final round against Ernesto Hoost, though Hoost was later replaced by German fighter Stephan Leko due to an injury. After a strong fight that saw Leko knocked down several times, Hunt won the bout and the title with a unanimous decision, becoming the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion.
Hunt suffered several losses throughout 2002. At the Nagoya Grand Prix event he was out-pointed in a decision loss to Croation kickboxer Mirko Filipovic and he quickly traveled to Paris for a third match against Jerome Le Banner. Although a highly exciting match, Hunt was forced to verbally submit between rounds after being injured in a knockdown suffered at the hands of Le Banner.
Hunt returned the following year to defend his Grand Prix title. After beating highly ranked South African fighter Mike Bernardo by unanimous decision, Hunt moved on to battle Stephan Leko for the second time. Leko seemed eager to avenge his earlier loss and dominated the fight until the third round when Hunt landed a very strong right cross to knock Leko out and win the fight. Hunt’s semi-final round pitted him against Jerome Le Banner for the fourth time in two years. Although Hunt was able to knock the French fighter down several times he would still go on to lose the fight by unanimous decision.
Following the Grand Prix loss, Hunt moved onto fighting with the PRIDE while training in Sydney, Australia. After compiling a fairly even record of wins and losses, Hunt was given a spot to compete in the PRIDE Shockwave 2006 event. After making it to the finals Hunt ultimately lost to PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko by a submission due to a kimura.
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Ed Herman - Short Fuse
Eric Esch - Butterbean
Ernesto Hoost - Mr. Perfect
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Gilbert Yvel - The Hurricane
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Matt Hamill - The Hammer
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