UFC: Kiwi Mark Hunt signals 2019 as final year in combat sports

Sunday will signal the end of Kiwi Mark Hunt's UFC tenure regardless of whether he wins or loses his fight.

'The Super Samoan' fights American Justin Willis at UFC Fight Night in Adelaide, his 18th inside the Octagon since his company debut in 2010.

The South Auckland born striker hasn't won since a June 2017 stoppage of recent UFC heavyweight title challenger Derrick Lewis.

The 44-year-old was smothered by elite wrestler Curtis Blaydes in February before a submission loss to Alexey Oleynik in September.

On the verge of UFC gold in 2014, Hunt's stint with the organisation hasn't panned out as he had envisioned, although five of his seven losses came at the hands of fighters who have served suspensions for using banned substances.

Hunt hopes his well-documented stance against the use of performance-enhancing drugs leaves a legacy when he walks away from the UFC which he confirmed to the Newshub will be after Sunday's fight.

UFC: Kiwi Mark Hunt signals 2019 as final year in combat sports

Speaking to 'The Fight Club Podcast', Hunt also revealed  2019 will be his final as a combat sports athlete.

"Yeah I'm going to be unemployed come December 4," Hunt said.

"I have been fighting a long, long time and I think maybe another five fights next year, not sure where and in what genre it might be, but I will finish my career in December next year.

"I might be keen to do some boxing - we will just have to wait and see what happens.

"I want to finish next year - that's for sure."

Mark Hunt will fight Justin Willis at UFC Fight Night in Adelaide.
Mark Hunt will fight Justin Willis at UFC Fight Night in Adelaide. Photo credit: Getty

The boxing avenue opens up the potential of a cross-sport super-fight with former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, something Hunt wouldn't be pressed on.

Whatever the next 12-months holds for Hunt, he won't be wearing his UFC Rebook shorts again after this weekend but Hunt is at peace with the decision to walk away from his dream of being heavyweight champion.

"I have had a few issues with the UFC these last few years but if you push that aside I have had a pretty great run," Hunt said.

"But I think that time has come - most of the guys I train with are half my age.

"I still feel like I can compete with these guys at heavyweight - I still feel like I am the best in the world but I am looking forward to doing other things in my life like spending time with my kids.

"I went from beating Derrick Lewis to fighting number seven, number nine and now number 13.

"I was never going to get a run at the title. He (Lewis) got a title shot straight away after fighting someone ranked higher than me. It should have been me getting that ranked opponent. But it is what it is, I don't call the shots and this is the way they have decided my journey.

"I'm okay with that - I have nothing to prove to anyone. I just want to finish my contract and move on to bigger and better things. One door closes and then another one will open."

Hunt hopes his career has proven that fighters this side of the world can make it big in the world of combat sports. The former K1 Grand Prix winner has fought the biggest names in the game setting a pathway for the likes of Israel Adesanya and other top Australasian fighters.

"I have been a pioneer I guess, alongside Rey Sefo but these guys like Robbie Whittaker, Dan Hooker and Israel Adesanya - they are on a new level," Hunt noted.

"There is more to come through - Izzy is special - he is so talented with his great skill set and great coaches.

"I just hope that some of them have taken something from me yeah. It's really good - this side of the world is set to unearth some great fighters in the future."


Join Newshub for live updates of UFC Fight Night Adelaide from 2pm Sunday.