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Mark Hunt 'forced' to fight Alistair Overeem at UFC 209 as pending lawsuit looms

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LAS VEGAS – Mark Hunt’s demeanor ahead of UFC 209 is the opposite of enthusiastic.

Hunt (12-11-1 MMA, 7-5-1 UFC), who meets Alistair Overeem (41-15 MMA, 6-4 UFC) in a heavyweight fight on Saturday night at UFC 209, is in the midst of a legal battle with the UFC, company president Dana White and former opponent Brock Lesnar after Lesnar failed multiple drug tests around the time of his UFC 200 fight with Hunt in July.

Earlier this week, the UFC filed a motion to dismiss Hunt’s case, but as of now it has yet to be ruled on. Hunt will still compete for the promotion despite the current situation, but he said that wasn’t necessarily by choice.

“I was forced to be here,” Hunt told MMAjunkie at today’s UFC 209 media day. “I was told, ‘If you don’t take this fight it’s against your contract.’ Why should my family suffer and miss out on my hard work? They deserve to have the better things in life because I’ve gotten beaten up to get here, so why should they miss out? I haven’t done nothing wrong here, so why should I be the outsider here? The other guy is the guy that cheated. All these other guys that cheat should be put on a pedestal like, ‘That guy’s a cheat. He shouldn’t be here.’”

UFC 209 takes place at T-Mobile Arena. Hunt vs. Overeem opens the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Although Hunt has faced multiple fighters who have a history with performance-enhancing drugs, he said the situation with Lesnar was the straw that broke the camel’s back. His civil suit states that he believes the UFC knowingly allowed Lesnar to compete with banned substances in his system at UFC 200, and that’s why it waived the mandatory four-month testing period required by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which oversees UFC drug testing.

“I didn’t want to be in this position,” Hunt said. “They gave me no choice. What am I supposed to do? Keep coming to work and fighting steroid cheaters. How would you feel going to work losing to guys? And it is losing. Because if you do lose, you lose. You don’t get no benefit from it. This is supposed to be the best fighters in the world, not the best cheaters in the world or the best guys that can hide it with doctors. The reason I’ve done this is because it’s been a pattern of things that happened.”

Interestingly enough Hunt’s UFC 209 fight comes against yet another opponent with a documented history. Overeem failed a drug test in 2012 which led to a nine-month suspension from competition. Hunt said he doesn’t feel comfortable competing against the former Strikeforce and DREAM champion, but again stated he was given no choice.

“Even seeing Alistair outside it really irritates me up my skin that I have to share the octagon with guys that have cheated to get here,” Hunt said. “I feel it’s the UFC’s job to back the guys that have done nothing wrong. We’ve done nothing wrong. The UFC needs to go and do this. …

“It takes the legitimacy out of it. There’s no legitimacy here. 60 percent of the roster is cheating. They’re using steroids.”

When asked if there’s any hope of improving his situation and relationship with the UFC, Hunt said it was unlikely.

“They don’t talk to me anymore,” Hunt said. “It’s just lawyer talk now. All I ask for is an even playing field. Put in a clause that if he gets caught doping, after he gets processed by USADA or whatever, all his money should go to the guy who didn’t cheat. It pays to cheat right now. It shouldn’t be like that.”

As Hunt waits for the situation to be resolved, he will step in the octagon at UFC 209 and attempt to do what he does best: fight. He’s already competed against Overeem once before, succumbing to a first-round submission from “The Reem” under the now-defunct DREAM banner in 2008.

Historically rematches have gone in Hunt’s favor, and he doesn’t expect that to change at UFC 209.

“I’ve never lost a rematch,” Hunt said. “I’m looking forward to hurting him. It just angers me that I still have to compete with these guys that are known for using steroids.”

Check out the video above to catch more of what Hunt had to say today.

And for more on UFC 209, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.



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