Mark Hunt

Mark Hunt and the curious case of UFC Sydney

Well, hometown hero Mark Hunt has been removed from the main event of UFC Sydney due to showing symptoms of CTE.

Late on Wednesday night, it was announced that Mark Hunt, a public hero in both Australia and New Zealand, was removed his main event fight opposite Marcin Tybura in Sydney. A decision that was made because the popular heavyweight fighter recently started showing symptoms of CTE, which is caused by copious amounts of brain trauma.

Mark did a really revealing piece last month where he discussed how his body is after years and years of combat. It went viral among the MMA community. During the eye-popping piece, Hunt spoke about his memory loss and how he has started to slur his words, a sure sign of CTE.  For those of who don’t know what Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is, it is a is a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have had multiple head injuries, higher in those who took part in combat sports.

“My body is fucked but my mind is still here,” Hunt said. “I’ve still got my senses about me and I know what’s right and wrong, which is the main thing. Sometimes I don’t sleep well. You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words. My memory is not that good anymore. I’ll forget something I did yesterday but I can remember the shit 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.”

The words above send shivers down my spine. I can’t for one second imagine what it is like to start losing my memory or even fathom the slurring of words. The UFC obviously felt the same way, concerned for Hunt, and made the decision to pull him. A very big decision that has infuriated the fan favourite. Hunt immediately took to his Facebook where he unleashed an attack aimed at promotional president Dana White.

That post was followed by a number of follow-ups stating that he had been cleared by doctors and that the slurring of words comment was misquoted and that it was a running joke between himself and his wife.

“I spent hours the other day with the doctors I was cleared to fight,” Hunt posted. “the interview I did with players voice was misquoted I don’t slur my words and is a is a running joke between my wife and me my memory isn’t that great but who remembers shit they dont want to not good.
“I’m disappointed that I have been withdrawn from the fight, I have passed all medicals 2 days ago. And spent 100,000 on camp. The truth is the legal case I have filed has caused me to be withdrawn. The interview has been taken out of context and want to reassure all my fans, I slur my words only when I have a drink I’m fit and healthy, and would have understood if the UFC requested a medical to ensure my safety, however this is total bullshit fuck you Dana, you’ve always hated me you dog.”
The actions that we saw from Hunt last night after he found out he was being removed was very worrying indeed. The anger that came exploding out him via those words can be taken as symptoms of CTE in themselves, if we were to be technical they would be second-stage symptoms.
Hunt was clearly showed poor judgement and impulsive behaviour during his reaction. Two of the symptoms associated with CTE. Now does that mean Mark has the disease? No. Does it mean he may have just been super angry and upset that his main event fight in front of thousands of countrymen was cancelled? Yes.
Either way, you look at it, the decision made by the UFC was a good one. Misquoted or not, the dangers surrounding letting a fighter like Mark potentially step into the cage and fight after he spoke so personally about the millage on his body and especially his head would be potentially life-threatening.
For me Mark Hunt and his safety are paramount and while I am super sad that I won’t be able to see one of the best heavyweight fighters compete at home, I am happy that the promotion is taking no chances when it comes to something as serious as CTE.
Let’s hope the two parties can come together and clear the air.
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Nick Strickland
I have been an avid fight fan since the early 2000's after I accidentally stumbled across a Chuck Liddell fight. While I was just a die-hard fan until 2013 I decided to give writing and covering the sport a go. And here we are, just a small fish making my way up river to swim with the big boys. Join me on my journey into the art of beautiful violence.

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