<
>

Hunt: My plan is to knock Lesnar's face off

LAS VEGAS -- A win over Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 will likely have zero effect on Mark Hunt's ranking in the heavyweight division. It will, however, attract plenty of eyeballs, which is probably just as good.

Hunt (12-10-1) will face Lesnar in the co-main event of the UFC's landmark feature on July 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight came together quickly, thanks to Lesnar's exclusive contract status with his primary employer, the WWE. Hunt didn't even know he was fighting Lesnar (or anyone, for that matter) at UFC 200 until this month.

Considering that Lesnar (5-2) hasn't fought since 2011, he doesn't offer much in terms of a ranked opponent -- especially to Hunt, 42, who is ranked No. 7 by ESPN.com and riding a two-fight winning streak. Obviously, the appeal of facing Lesnar lies completely in his star power, which Hunt is happy to cash in on.

"A win doesn't do anything for my ranking," Hunt admitted. "But more people will be watching. I wanted to fight on this card and [UFC president Dana White] made it happen -- being added as the co-main event was kind of funny because of the timing, but hey, thanks Dana. Thanks Brock."

The opportunity to fight a name like Lesnar in the co-main event of UFC 200 might have persuaded Hunt to agree to certain circumstances he otherwise wouldn't have -- or at the very least, it makes him care less about doing so.

For one thing, it amounts to a short-notice fight. Hunt likes to "indulge" between fights, saying it's not unusual for his weight to climb to well over 300 pounds. He has proved to be capable of cutting large amounts of weight in the past, but of course, the more time, the better. Ahead of this fight, he's looking at essentially one month.

"It's a short-notice fight," Hunt said. "No excuses, it is what it is, but I found out about this fight the same time as everyone else. Had I known I'd be fighting at UFC 200, I would have been training.

"When I'm not in camp, I've got young ones -- I stack [the weight] on with them. I've promised myself three or four times I wouldn't put that weight on, but when you've got little ones, man, it's all about convenience. That's just what happens when you're a family guy. I'll get up over 300 pounds or something. I always lose it, but if you have to do it in two weeks, it will kill you."

Hunt is also on the other side of the UFC's decision to waive a mandatory four-month drug-testing window for fighters coming out of retirement. Under the promotion's anti-doping policy, Lesnar is supposed to be subjected to random testing before he's able to return to the active roster. However, the policy allows the UFC to waive that requirement at its discretion. Lesnar will be the first to receive such an exemption.

As an active entertainer for WWE, Lesnar is subject to the company's drug-testing policy, which can include random testing. And for the record, Lesnar, a former UFC heavyweight champion, never tested positive for a banned substance during his MMA career. But Hunt does not appear to have much confidence in the WWE policy.

"At the end of the day, everyone should be on a level playing field," Hunt said. "I've been fighting cheaters my whole career. The thing is, when you are caught cheating, so to speak, that means you have to look back on your life and the accomplishments you've done and say, 'Did you really do them or was it the cheating that did them?' Hey man, that's on them, not on me. I can't control it.

"WWE and their drug testing, that's sports entertainment, it's not competition. This is entertainment, too -- but it's real."

Hunt, a native of New Zealand who now fights out of Australia, says he's confident in his ability to handle Lesnar's wrestling background, which includes an NCAA Division I national title. His fight at UFC 200 will be the first of a new six-fight deal he signed earlier this year. And although Lesnar doesn't represent a top-10 opponent, he might be a major step in making sure a title shot is part of that contract.

"I don't know if it will get out of the first round, maybe the second," said Hunt, when asked for a prediction. "His game plan is to get me down. My game plan is to knock his face off."