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Amid legal battle, Mark Hunt welcomes some 'pure, plain and simple fighting' with Derrick Lewis

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand – With a legal battle taking place outside the octagon, Mark Hunt is glad for the simpler one he’s about to put on for his home fans at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

After a UFC 200 appointment with ex-champ Brock Lesnar that resulted in his opponent failing two drug tests, Hunt (12-11-1 MMA, 7-5-1 UFC) decided to take both Lesnar and the UFC to court. With that imbroglio still unfolding, Hunt welcomes the chance to resolve things with fellow heavyweight slugger Derrick Lewis (18-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) in more straightforward fashion.

“That’s the best place in the world, in the octagon,” Hunt told MMAjunkie ahead of the FS1-televised UFC Fight Night 110 headliner, which takes place Sunday (but airs live in the U.S. on Saturday due to time difference). “There’s no charges, no court battle. It’s just mano a mano.

“There are two guys trying to get that win and trying to move ahead in the rankings of the heavyweight division. That’s all there is. You can forget about everything. (It’s) just pure, plain and simple fighting. That’s the best part about it. Best part about it.”

Hunt, who contended in a later-amended lawsuit that “UFC officials allowed Lesnar to compete at UFC 200 with knowledge or willful indifference to the fact that Lesnar was using banned substances,” is seeking for both punitive and compensatory damages after originally demanding to be given the former champ’s full $2.5 million purse.

To some extent, Hunt confirmed, it is about the money. But there’s a lot more to that than people may think.

“The first thing you do when you have a problem like this, you take away their incentive to cheat,” Hunt said. “So what’s their incentive? Money. Take away that first, and then it changes their issues, their views on trying to cheat. You take away their financial gain, and they don’t want to cheat. If you talk about people saying it’s a money grab. Yeah, it is.

“It’s a grab to grab their money so they don’t do it. When you stop the influx of income, and stop their want for cheating – because when cheaters cheat, they want the money, and they want the rest of it. If you take their money gains from it, what have they got? They’ve got (expletive), that’s what they’ve got. Their hand on their (expletive), and that’s all they’ve got.”

Originally a decision win in favor of Lesnar, the UFC 200 scrap was later overturned to a no-contest, and Lesnar was fined and suspended. Hunt went on to fight once more; Alistair Overeem knocked him out in the third round of a UFC 209 encounter in March.

At 43, Hunt doesn’t rule out the possibility of this being his last scrap. And, happy with having “done his dash” in helping pave the way for fighters who followed, he would be satisfied to close his career cycle where it started.

“Who knows? Every fight for me could be my last fight,” Hunt said. “I’m the oldest in the division. I’ve still got four fights to try to have a run at the title. We’ll see how Sunday goes, and then we’ll go from there.”

But then, amid all the drama and dissatisfaction, what keeps him going?

“What am I going to do? Give up? Stop?” Hunt said. “No, I’m a fighter and being in court with the rest of it – I didn’t want to be in this position with the UFC. It’s not something I like to be in. I never planned that rubbish. It’s just the way things worked out.

“I asked just for a clause in my contract so that the guy who’s cheating doesn’t get any income. That didn’t happen. But I’m not going to keep working and fighting guys that are juicing. Like I already explained before, when you lose against a cheater, they get all the benefits, but you lose on all fronts.”

To hear more from Hunt, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.



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