Mark Hunt is inching closer and closer to a title shot. Say that with me MMA fans: Mark Hunt, who is 8-7 in his MMA career, is inching towards a title shot in 2013. This is one of my favorite storylines of 2012 and 2013. The #rallyformarkhunt Twitter campaign was created organically when Alistair Overeem failed a Nevada State Athletic Commission drug test with elevated testosterone levels before his UFC 146 bout with Junior Dos Santos.
At the time, Brock Lesnar was not available. He had retired and resigned with the WWE. Dana White insisted that Frank Mir was not available and that his scheduled bout with Cain Velasquez would go on as planned. The “PRIDE NEVER DIE” contingent of MMA fans generated interest in seeing Hunt take on then-champion Dos Santos in a title match.
Mir was eventually placed in the title shot but the Twitter campaign showed fans and Dana White that there was a population who wanted to see Hunt succeed. Whether it was due to nostalgia or a desire to watch a train-wreck, I can’t say I wasn’t a part of the hysteria around UFC 146.
In 2013, it is clear that the normal rules that govern which fighters receive title shots have gone out the window. Nick Diaz is taking on Georges St. Pierre for the title directly after a loss to Carlos Condit. Frankie Edgar received a title shot against Jose Aldo without ever fighting in the featherweight division.
With this in mind, Hunt will take on Stefan Struve at UFC on Fuel 8 in Saitama, Japan on March 2. The same contingent of fans that rooted for his title shot in 2012 will be there cheering him on in Japan. If Hunt emerges victorious, White might have to ask himself what he has to lose by giving Hunt a title shot. In the modern UFC, where promotional concerns are more important than merit when it comes to title shots, why not give one to the guy who has a grassroots movement supporting his candidacy?