I, like everyone else in the sport, have mad love for Mark Hunt. While I would never feel the need to justify writing about the Super Samoan, I thought I'd get the traffic from his upcoming fight now that we know it's officially on again!
Hope you don't mind clicking the link and as always all feedback is welcomed!
Few men have turned their career around the way that Mark Hunt has. Just as few men have fought so many fearsome names. The recent stint of victories on Mark Hunt's UFC record looks like something of a break from the huge names whom Hunt has been in against throughout his kickboxing and MMA careers.
Hunt has been in with Jerome Le Banner, Ray Sefo, Ernesto Hoost, Francisco Filho,Semmy Schilt and Mirko "Cro Cop" in kickboxing, and "Cro Cop," Wanderlei Silva,Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett, among others, in MMA. Win or lose, Hunt is unlikely to be phased by any step up in competition at this point.
Even from the early phases of his kickboxing career, Hunt was one of the few fighters, despite limited training time, to possess knockout power in almost all of the orthodox punches. Make no mistake though, Hunt was focused on his right hand almost entirely as a power puncher in his K-1 tenure. Numerous men fell to his overhand right or his right uppercut, and his left-right flurries also proved enough to stop Jerome Le Banner.
Mark Hunt, however, despite being smart and fairly savvy, is a genetically gifted fighter. With a head possessing the density of a bowling ball and fists to match, Hunt realised that he could beat just about anyone if he drew them into a brawl. Despite having a good technical game, Mark Hunt had a great brawling game and ended up relying on it more and more.
Hunt's recent career resurgence in the UFC has come on the heels of getting back to technical striking to land his legendary power. It's hard to brawl in a sport where opponents are just going to grab you if they get hurt/scared/close enough. Hunt doesn't have the takedown defence to volume strike or swing wild, so he has worked far more on his counter-punching game.
One of Hunt's newer developments is the low counter uppercut. This punch, thrown at almost hip level, is Hunt's go-to method of deterring a wrestler's shot from his opponent. You can see it in action through his bouts with ChrisTuchscherer and Ben Rothwell. Indeed Hunt picked up a spectacular walk-away knockout against Tuchscherer.
In the pure striking department though, Hunt's game has changed a great deal since his K-1 days. Hunt, like many great strikers in MMA (including his upcoming opponent Junior Dos Santos), fights with his lead hand low. In addition to making a fighter's lead hand strikes more difficult to predict or see coming, it gives the fighter a much needed shortcut to getting an underhook if his opponent shoots or tries to clinch.
For fighters who don't have the wrestling hips to fight off takedowns constantly, the act of simply having the lead arm low can make the opponent reluctant to shoot, knowing that the underhook is already there.
Hunt's low lead hand also allows him to bring his newly polished left hook up rapidly and catch his opponents with little warning. It also baits strikes to his head from the opponent. The lead hand being low worked a treat in drawing an ill-advised right hand lead from Cheick Kongo which Hunt swung over with his left hook to drop the Frenchman.
Cheick Kongo throws a right lead against Hunt. Hunt's low lead hand invites long strikes to the face.
Hunt counters with a left hook as Kongo withdraws his missed punch.
Hunto's right hand is held in front of him, actively parrying. This is another new development. Most kickboxers and MMA fighters will fight with their right fist pinned to the right side of their jaw or head. It is curious that Hunt carries his right hand open and ready to parry jabs when so few of the men he has met lately have been frequent, let alone competent, jabbers.
Hunto holds his right hand forward of his chin, open and ready to parry the jab.
Stefan Struve, whom I constantly criticized for having no jab despite being almost seven feet tall, threw the occasional jab at Hunt and found himself on the hard end of a counter each time.
In truth, though, Hunt's right hand is used in a way which so many fighters in MMA don't understand—pre-emptively eliminating the counter strike. While rear-hand counters are far more dangerous to the fighter on offense (in this case Hunt), they are slow and require the opponent to be waiting on a hair trigger. Lead-hand counters are shorter, quicker and far easier to sneak through.
Whenever Hunt could encourage Struve to jab he would parry it and step in.
To prevent himself from getting jabbed in the snout every time he tries to close the distance, especially as most opponents in the division have both height and reach on him, Hunto will cover-press his lead hand into the space between his face and the opponent's lead hand, eliminating the counter jab.
Joe Louis (on the left) holds his right hand forward of his jaw line, ready to parry or stop jabs.
One of the marks of a good boxer is the ability to use both hands at once—not to punch, that would be dumb—but to shut down an opponent's offence while delivering one's own. Joe Louis, the greatest heavyweight champion to date, was not particularly fast or evasive when he moved in to hurt his opponents. What Louis was good at was using his right hand to shut down his opponent's lead hand as he came in. Hunt, while nowhere near the boxer Louis was, does the same thing as he moves in to throw his left hook.