Mark Hunt, angry and depressed at what he feels is a company which condones the use of performance-enhancing drugs, says he probably won't fight in the UFC again.
Hunt, speaking exclusively to the Herald in Auckland yesterday, is taking a stand following Brock Lesnar's two failed drugs tests which came to light after Lesnar's points victory over Kiwi Hunt in UFC 200 this month.
It is the third time Hunt has fought an opponent who has subsequently tested positive for drugs. Lesnar, a WWE wrestling star, appears set to escape the violation without a fine or the loss of any of his reported $3.5million from the fight.
That is unacceptable to Hunt, a 42-year-old who is contracted to the UFC for five more fights but doubts he will see them. Instead, Hunt, who believes he has four or five fighting years left, is looking to start a union to protect fighters' interests, but more particularly their health. He said it was possible for a fighter such as him to die in the octagon should the use of performance-enhancing drugs continue to go unchecked.
"It's an unsafe working environment," Hunt said. "They're doing nothing about cheating or performance-enhancing [drugs]. They're helping it, they're condoning drugs, is what I think. I think there should be some criminal [charges]. Every other sport has it sorted out. Every other sport frowns on cheats and drugs.
"It's a pattern here, and probably the next time - if I did fight - I could die," he said. "I have nothing against fighting, obviously, I love what I do. If it's an even playing field then it makes it fair... the guy was caught doping and he gets my [heavyweight ranking] position of No 8 and he gets all the money, it's ridiculous."
Hunt had lobbied for Lesnar's bonus to be stripped and given to him, but said today he wasn't worried about boosting his own bank balance, more about upping the sanctions for those who transgressed.
"I don't give a rats' about money, it's not like any of us are going to take it with us.
"The reason why I said to take his money is because guys are cheating to make money.
They want to win - you have to take away the incentives for the guys who are cheating, [they should face] criminal court and lifetime bans. I expected the company I was working for - I have taken a lot of fights on short notice and everything - to stand up and say 'look man, we're going to make an example of this guy'.
"People are scared about speaking out because of job security - I will lose a lot if they fire me. But like I said, I don't care about money, it's about what's right. I could die. If something happened to me while I was at work because of a guy [illegally] enhancing his performances, then what do I need money for? To pay my hospital bills?
"They have a monopoly at the moment... I've always said competition is good. You have a choice to go somewhere and ply your tried somewhere else... starting a union won't be easy, but I'm trying to get one started for all the fight sports, starting with mixed martial arts. I've had a lot of people reaching out. I've got about 10 lawyers and a whole lot of global interest which is really good. I think it needs to happen, I think it's a matter of time before someone perishes.
"At the end of the day it's all about the revenue they make and we're the ones who lose out."
Hunt said he no contact with UFC Dana White these days. When asked if he had any regrets about speaking out since the news of Lesnar's drugs violations broke, he said: "Mate, the guy tried to kill me. He [illegally] enhanced himself to try to kill me... where are the penalties for this guy?
"I don't know man... I'm not going to work for a company that treats me like a bit of rubbish. I'm a human being, I need to be treated fairly like everyone else.
"I would be walking away from a lot. If they don't sort something out... but you probably won't see me working for the UFC again."