UFC president Dana White recently pulled Mark Hunt from a headlining bout in Sydney, Australia, because of “medical concerns.”
Hunt fired back at the move, issuing expletive laden statements and penning an open letter to White, but the boss has now issued his side of the story.
UFC officials claimed that Hunt was removed from his UFC Fight Night 121 fight with Tybura and replaced by Fabricio Werdum because of concerns about his health following comments he made in an article that appeared on Player’s Voice.
“Sometimes I don’t sleep well. You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words,” he was quoted as saying. “My memory is not that good anymore. I’ll forget something I did yesterday, but I can remember the (expletive) I did years and years ago. That’s just the price I’ve paid – the price of being a fighter. But I’ve fought a lot of drug cheats and copped a lot of punishment from guys who were cheating and that’s not right.”
Hunt later claimed that those comments were taken out of context, although he was cited as the author of the article, and wrote a follow-up piece saying that he had cleared all the necessary medical checks. White begs to differ.
“Mark Hunt was never ‘cleared’ to fight Marcin Tybura in Sydney, Australia this November. Period. And the statements he’s been making, saying that he is, are just not true,” White wrote in an exclusive letter to the Daily Telegraph.
“My team contacted his management within the first week of learning about these symptoms and offered to fly him to Las Vegas first class to visit the Lou Ruvo Brain Center — which is the best in the world for brain research — to get more tests done. And you know what? He absolutely refused.”
Hunt has also claimed that White has it in for him, that he’s simply trying to find a way to force Hunt out of the UFC after he filed a lawsuit against the company because of how it has handled fighters convicted of using performance-enhancing substances. The suit was filed after Brock Lesnar was sanctioned for testing positive to banned substances on two drug tests in relation to his UFC 200 bout with Hunt. Lesnar was suspended, fined, and his initial win over Hunt was changed to a no contest.
White also pushed back on the claim that he is trying to force Hunt out because of the lawsuit.
“Would I have placed him in two additional fights, including one in which he headlined the event?” White questioned. “Or paid him 1.645 million dollars, which includes a $50k Fight of the Night bonus and a $25k discretionary bonus?
“All of this was AFTER the lawsuit, so how can anyone say I have any issues with this guy?
“Bottom line, my job is to put on the best fights in the world and part of that is to protect these guys from themselves.”