mma / Columns

Fighters Like Mark Hunt Will Never Be Saved By Promoters And Commissions

October 19, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Lambert
Mark Hunt

Dana White pulled Mark Hunt from UFC Fight Night 121 to “save him from himself.”

It’s an honorable act following Hunt’s article on the Player’s Voice where he said, “If I die fighting, that’s fine” and “Sometimes I don’t sleep well. You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words. My memory is not that good anymore.”

But let’s not act like Dana White is a saint.

This is the same guy who still allows BJ Penn fight despite Penn failing to look competitive for over five years. Not only does he book Penn to fight, he books him cut to 145 lbs despite being a career light or welterweight. If Dana can squeeze money out of a fighter, he’s going to do it. The only reason he didn’t do it with Mark Hunt is because Hunt is 43-years-old and on record admitting to brain damage from fighting. And if, God forbid, Hunt did die in the cage, Dana didn’t want to that on his hands.

The pulling of Mark Hunt bring up the old question, who needs to step in to save fighters?

My answer is, and always will be, the promoter or the commission.

Antonio Silva participated in a kickboxing bout on Oct. 14. He lost in the second round via TKO to Rico Verhoeven following a head kick and a flurry of punches. It was Silva’s first professional kickboxing bout. It was Verhoeven’s 62nd.

Silva has plenty of experience as a mixed martial artist and multiple MMA fighters have jump to kickboxing and vice versa. However, Silva’s MMA record is 1-8-1 since 2013. Of those eight losses, six came by (T)KO. The one no contest was a 25-minute brain-battering against Mark Hunt. Silva should not be allowed to compete in any sport where a goal is to separate your opponent from consciousness.

But he’s not going to make that decision because he’s a fighter and fighter’s don’t know any better. Yes, they are grown men who should be able allowed to make their own decisions, but they’re fighters. They literally get hit in the head of a living and think that’s a life worth living. You read the Hunt article. He’s fine with dying in the cage. He’s not the first person who has said something similar. And he probably won’t be the last.

Fighters want to continue to fight because that’s all they’ve ever known. It’s why Dan Henderson and Randy Couture fought well into their 40’s. It’s why you’re hearing rumors of a Chuck Liddell comeback fight despite him being 47-years-old. They don’t know any better and if people are going to pay them and clear them to fight, they’re going to take that money and fight.

So, if promoters and commissions truly are concerned about the safety and health of fighters, they’ll stop booking guys who have been KO’d six times in their last ten fights. They’ll pay attention to things like that. They’ll take into account age and recent performance when deciding to book or clear a fighter.

There’s almost no way of enforcing this. Some promoter, somewhere in the world, will book any fighter willing to fight. And if he won’t, the next guy will. Commissions are just as bad as they’ll clear anyone who can stand on their own two feet. And some countries don’t even have a regulatory commission.

Mark Hunt isn’t the only fighter with a poor memory who slurs his words. He’s just the only fighter who openly admitted to it. And for that, he was punished in the moment.

But let’s not pretend that Dana White did a noble thing or that it’s not possible for Hunt to fight again. In fact, I’m fairly positive that Hunt will fight in the UFC again and this will just be another thing that’s 100 percent MMA.

I tweet things @jeremylambert88

article topics :

Mark Hunt, UFC, Jeremy Lambert