Despite fan support from around the world, which had an ever-growing fanbase create a campaign ‘Rally for Mark Hunt’ to convince UFC officials to slide Hunt into Alistair Overeem’s slot as challenger against Junior dos Santos at UFC 146, UFC President Dana White has said that those fans can halt their rally.
At the UFC on Fuel TV 2 post-fight press conference, this was White’s first opportunity to address this issue. Even though White applauded Hunt’s fanbase’s effort, he said “They can keep rallying. It ain’t going to happen.”
That rally had been going strong for the past few weeks. So strong, in fact, that the always-brief Hunt joined Twitter during that span, and he seems to have yet to sign off. Now with over 10,000 followers, Hunt has been quite active with his fans.
White has been quick to praise the New Zealand native’s tenure in the UFC, which started off poorly thanks to a quick submission loss to Sean McCorkle at UFC 119 in September 2010. But since then, Hunt has won three straight, with two coming by knockout. Following his decision win over Ben Rothwell at UFC 135, White admitted that when the UFC bought Pride in 2007, Hunt had a chance to take a buyout and get paid not to fight in the UFC. But Hunt wanted to fight, and insisted he be allowed to be given the opportunity.
Hunt was matched up with fellow heavyweight Stefan Struve at UFC 146, an all-heavyweight main card. But with the former K-1 champion now on a three fight win-streak, Hunt’s fans felt he was the one that should replace Alistair Overeem if Overeem is not allowed to fight champion Junior dos Santos at the event.
With White declaring that Hunt will not be replacing Overeem, he explained why he feels the matchup with Struve is the right one for Hunt at this time.
“I think this fight with Struve is a good fight for him,” said White. “If he beats Struve, he will break in and start fighting some of the top five heavyweights in the world. Anything can happen in a fight, but in all reality, it’s not fair to Mark Hunt either, to throw the guy right in there with Junior Dos Santos for a title shot. The guy worked his way up. If he beats Struve, he fights somebody in the top five. I guarantee you this, if he beats Struve, his next fight will be someone in the top five that can get him closer to that title shot.”