Kiwi UFC star Mark Hunt says boxing is a primitive sport in comparison with mixed martial arts and slowly the country he loves is realising how pure the art of fighting is.
Hunt (22-10) and Frank Mir (18-10) squared off for the first time yesterday in Brisbane, the city that will host their highly anticipated heavyweight clash next month.
Last time Hunt was in Brisbane he was involved in one of the bloodiest fights ever seen in Australia when he and Antonio Silva thumped each other for three intense and entertaining rounds.
For many, the event was an initial and brutal introduction to UFC and prompted negative reactions throughout the country.
Hunt, who lives in Sydney, says the sport of mixed martial arts has thrived despite that controversy and referenced the danger involved in a seemingly innocuous sport like cricket.
"Any sport has an element of danger in it," Hunt said.
"Who would have thought a cricket ball could kill a person?
"We just get a raw deal because this is fighting in its purest form. Boxing is kind of primitive compared to what we do.
"People say to me at parties all the time 'How do you do what you do'.
"I say to them, 'I don't understand how you do what you do'.
"I could not sit in the traffic for hours going to job I don't love.
"I'd rather do what I love for a short period.
"Our sport is not that violent. We are not hidden by the idea of being a gentleman sport in which you could die from a ball to the head.
"Hang on, how is that a gentleman sport?"
His battle with Mir will be more technical than his bout with Silva but it carries significant weight in the UFC's heavyweight landscape as both veterans make a title push.
The UFC's second event in Brisbane will take place on March 20 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre with tickets on sale this week.