Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

UFC: Hunt's build-up is worlds apart

Mark Hunt will enjoy a comfortable final week ahead of Saturday's five-round brawl with Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Mark Hunt will enjoy a comfortable final week ahead of Saturday's five-round brawl with Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Kiwi UFC fighter Mark Hunt will feel like he is on holiday in Brisbane this week compared to the dramas he faced in the final days before his last fight in May.

As Hunt looks to his UFC Fight Night 33 main event bout with Brazilian Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva in Queensland on Saturday, his preparation has been poles apart from the frustrations of six and a half months ago.

Visa issues kept Hunt grounded in New Zealand as he tried to leave for Las Vegas to meet the world's second-best heavyweight Junior dos Santos at UFC 160 on May 25.

Hunt (9-8) and his camp refused to blame the travel troubles as the reason behind his third-round knockout loss to dos Santos but the final week before the fight was spent with fruitless phone calls and delays before he eventually arrived in the US a few days before the bout.

This time around, the 39-year-old Hunt and his team flew to Brisbane yesterday where they will enjoy a comfortable final week in a rented house ahead of Saturday's five-round brawl with Silva (18-5).

Hunt's trainer Steve Oliver said the only concern they had this week was making sure his prized charge could drop the final few kilograms required to sneak under the 120kg limit for UFC heavyweights at Friday's weigh-in.

"He's got a chef on the job so he doesn't have to worry about his meals and we'll get over there and we'll get straight to work,'' Oliver told the Herald during the weekend.

"It'll just be feel-good sessions but we've still got to stay on the weight because he's a few kilos over so we've got to keep his energy output happening. The hard training is done so we'll do a water cut a day out and hopefully it'll be all zeroes on the day.''

Oliver said Hunt's recent camp in Auckland had been one of the best during his time working with him, which stretched back on-and-off for the past decade.

With renowned hands expert Lollo Heimuli continuing to work on Hunt's striking and conditioning coach Alex Flint whipping him in to shape, Oliver - who focuses on Hunt's wrestling and ground game - said the team couldn't be happier.

"To be honest as far as weight goes we were probably closer to the target last time but the visa issues threw us in to space,'' Oliver said.

"Physically and mentally, Mark's 200 per cent on last time, I think it's going to happen.''

Hunt will headline this Saturday's card with fellow Kiwis James Te Huna and Dylan Andrews also involved, making for a potential watershed day in New Zealand's mixed martial arts history.

Light heavyweight Te Huna (16-6) will be looking to bounce back from a submission loss to Glover Teixeira at UFC 160 in May when he takes on veteran Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua (21-8).

Andrews, a promising middleweight who is 17-4 across all promotions, will meet the 8-3 Clint Hester as the 34-year-old aims to build on a two-fight win streak in the UFC.

- APNZ

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