Mark Hunt has been given a clean bill of health – at least clean enough to return to the Octagon.
According to a report from The Daily Telegraph, the heavyweight fan favorite has been cleared to compete by specialists from the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. Hunt had been indefinitely suspended by the UFC after revealing that he was suffering from potential signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a column for Australia’s Players Voice in September.
“We’ve just had a conference call with the doctors in the States, who gave us the good news,” Team Hunt manager Zen Ginnen told the Daily Telegraph. “So it’s all looking positive.
“The doctor said Mark scored well above average and that he’s good to compete. So they’ll ring the UFC now and let them know. We’re just waiting on the UFC to clear him.”
Hunt had reportedly been cleared by two different doctors in Australia, but UFC President Dana White required that the fighter undergo further examination in the United States before being allowed to return to the promotion. As a result, Hunt spent four days in Las Vegas, including one for a day of testing.
Hunt was pulled from a proposed headlining bout against Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney on Oct. 7 as a result of his piece in the Players Voice. He was replaced by Fabricio Werdum, who went on to defeat Tybura via unanimous decision.
“My body is f---ed but my mind is still here. I’ve still got my senses about me and I know what’s right and wrong, which is the main thing,” Hunt wrote in the piece entitled “If I Die Fighting, That’s Fine”. “Sometimes I don’t sleep well. You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words. My memory is not that good anymore. I’ll forget something I did yesterday but I can remember the s--- I did years and years ago.”
“That’s just the price I’ve paid – the price of being a fighter,” he continued. “But I’ve fought a lot of drug cheats and copped a lot of punishment from guys who were cheating and that’s not right.”
Hunt blasted the UFC following his suspension, which he claimed was punishment for the civil lawsuit he filed against the company, White and Brock Lesnar regarding Lesnar’s failed test at UFC 200. Now that he will likely be able to make his Octagon return in the near future, Ginnen told the Daily Telegraph that Hunt will be pushing for a showdown with Werdum at UFC 221 in Perth on Feb. 10. Hunt lost to Werdum in a title bout at UFC 180 in November 2014.
“So we would love for Fabricio to be Mark’s opponent in Perth,’’ Ginnen said. “We think Francis Ngannou is next in line for a title fight. So we’d like to go up against Fabricio and hopefully be in line for a title shot at the back end of 2018.”