The fight will bring an end to Hunt’s UFC contract.
The fight will bring an end to Hunt’s UFC contract.

Hunt’s sad life of violence

Mark Hunt had already served two separate stints in prison violent offences and had just knocked three men unconscious outside an Auckland nightclub.

Security guard and kickboxing trainer Sam Marsters witnessed the entire incident.

He saw raw talent in the untrained brawler and invited him to compete in a legitimate kickboxing bout at the same nightclub later that week.

Hunt accepted and won.

It was the chance he needed to avoid a path to another lengthy prison term.

Hunt seized the opportunity with both hands, would go on to reach global success and would become one of the greatest and most feared fighters of our time.

 

As a child, Mark’s late father would beat him with fists, broom handles, electrical cords and anything else he could use against his son.
As a child, Mark’s late father would beat him with fists, broom handles, electrical cords and anything else he could use against his son.

 

"Fighting was never part of the plan, but it changed my life and changed how I looked at things," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"It made me a better person. I believe I am an example of turning a negative into a positive."

Life wasn't always easy for Hunt.

As a child, his late father would beat him with fists, broom handles, electrical cords and anything else he could use against his son. Sometimes he was even bound by rope and left completely defenceless.

Brutal, yes, but nothing compared to the torment his sister endured who was raped by from the age of six until she left the family home. Hunt previously recalled his father disappearing into her room and cleaning himself with Dettol afterwards - a smell that Hunt still hates to this day.

His childhood would leave Hunt emotionally numb and no stranger to acts of extreme violence - both things that would help him reach the top of the fight game.

By the late 1990s Hunt had relocated to Sydney and was focusing on his fight career.

And in 2001 he became the first person outside of Europe to win K-1 kickboxing title - one of the most prestigious honours in the sport.

He would also fight for Japanese organisation PRIDE which once was home to some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts.

 

In 2010, Mark Hunt joined the UFC.
In 2010, Mark Hunt joined the UFC.

 

And in 2010, Hunt would join the UFC - an organisation where he would get worldwide fame for his knockouts where he would walk away before the opponent even hit the mat.

He travelled the world, made more money than he could ever dream and created a legacy that will live on for the ages. But Hunt's career hasn't been without its struggles.

The UFC star has previously told about spending $60,000 on the pokies at SkyCity, while on a three-day methamphetamine binge when fighting at the highest level.

He has also had several clashes with UFC president Dana White - mostly over some of his opponents testing positive to performance enhancing drugs.

"This is total bulls**t f**k you Dana, you've always hated me you dog," he wrote on Instagram after being pulled from a fight card last year.

After a back-to-back losses, the man dubbed the "super Samoan" will strive for one last shot at redemption when he faces Justin Willis at this weekend's UFC Fight Night: Dos Santos Vs Tuivasa in Adelaide.

"I'm pumped, it's been a long time, but I feel great. Last time I was here it wasn't a good result, but it was my fault and this time I feel different," he said.

 

Tai Tuivasa is a “proud westie” from the Mount Druitt housing commissions is also no stranger to the darker side of life before finding refuge in fighting.
Tai Tuivasa is a “proud westie” from the Mount Druitt housing commissions is also no stranger to the darker side of life before finding refuge in fighting.

 

The fight will bring an end to Hunt's UFC contract - which will likely not be renewed - but the self-proclaimed warrior said his days from fighting are far from over.

"I just became a free agent and am looking at doing some fighting before I retire," he said.

"Even though I'm 45, I still have more to offer and the itch to compete. There's been a few bumps in the road but put that aside and I am still one of the greatest fighters in the world."

And while the UFC will lose one of its greatest heavyweights, this weekend's event will mark a changing of the guard with Mark Hunt's protege Tai Tuivasa headlining against former champion Junior dos Santos - a man who knocked Hunt out with a spinning hook kick at UFC 160 in May 2013 in Vegas.

Tuivasa has had a rapid climb through the UFC heavyweight rankings, with the former NRL player 3 - 0 since entering the fighting organisation in 2017.

He has also developed a cult following for doing a shoey after each of his victories.

The "proud westie" from the Mount Druitt housing commissions is also no stranger to the darker side of life before finding refuge in fighting.

He first saw someone shoot up heroin at the age of eight, stole his mother's car before he was old enough to see over the steering wheel and was involved in countless street fights - before the UFC he had left quartet of Gold Coast gym junkies out cold on a Surfers Paradise backstreet.

The 25-year-old had also reached the NRL and was playing for the Sydney Roosters when he lost $20,000 in the pokies - left with not even enough money for a cab ride home.

After that night, Tuivasa quit rugby league and moved back to western Sydney to be with his family and focus on a new goal: fighting.

Having dominated since joining the UFC - winning two of his fights by knock out - Tuivasa is set for the biggest challenge of his career as he faces the former heavyweight champion.

"Man, it shows anything is possible and f**king anything can happen. I am fighting one of the biggest names ever to step into the octogen," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"I'm going for his head. I feel at home training and am looking forward to a good old fashion blue with another man."

Tuivasa said he approaches every fight the same and will be looking to "punch holes" through his opponent but admits fighting on home soil allows him to have a secret weapon.

"I think 80 per cent coming to the event will be from Western Sydney. I represent my people and my people represent me."

 

Tai Tuivasa is confident of win by knockout, although his opponent Junior dos Santos feels otherwise. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Tai Tuivasa is confident of win by knockout, although his opponent Junior dos Santos feels otherwise. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

 

"I got people around who have been there when I was nothing and stood by me to where I am."

Tuivasa is confident of win by knockout, although his opponent Junior dos Santos feels otherwise.

"I'm feeling ready. I had a great training camp for this fight and right now the goal is to go there and get the victory," he said.

"I hope everyone is ready because this will no doubt be an amazing fight for the fans."

The 6"4 giant he has been approaching this fight with a new strategy he believes will give him the edge.

"I am 255 pounds (115kg) and have never been this heavy for a fight before, but I am feeling strong and fresh.