Stefan Struve had been rocketing up the heavyweight division prior to UFC on Fuel TV 8, looking to make Mark Hunt his fifth consecutive victory, forcing the UFC brass to put him in with the top contenders.
Often counted out, Hunt once again proved the naysayers wrong.
When the UFC’s parent company purchased Pride Fighting Championships, Hunt was one of the fighters from the promotion that the UFC didn’t want. He was on a five-fight losing streak. The company tried to buy him out, but Hunt would have none of that. He wanted to prove himself.
He lost his first UFC bout, to Sean McCorkle, but then proved his resilience by winning three consecutive bouts before stepping in the Octagon with Struve in Japan.
Hunt and Struve went back and forth through the first two rounds, Hunt chopping away with his power punches, often staggering Struve, but not putting him down. Struve countered by taking Hunt to the mat whenever possible, attacking with a variety of submissions and mixing in some solid ground and pound.
Struve even had full mount late in round two, raining down punches and elbows, but couldn’t put the New Zealander away.
Hunt in the final round found the punches he had been searching for, hurting Struve early, but not immediately recognizing that he had. Once he did, however, Hunt’s killer instinct kicked in. He landed a big right hand to Struve’s temple and then sent him crashing to the mat with a wicked left hook.
Hunt turned away from Struve, thinking no further damage was necessary, but referee Herb Dean directed him to continue fighting.
Dean then took a second look at Struve, who lay defenseless on the mat, and waved off the fight before Hunt returned to the attack.
Hunt isn’t likely to be considered a title contender just yet, but having nearly been written off before he ever got an opportunity in the Octagon, his hopes to someday be considered a contender are still alive.