MMA myth busted: The UFC did not try to pay Mark Hunt to go away
By Owen Phillips 2/11/16 News
The story that Dana White loves to share when Mark Hunt walk-off KO’s another opponent is that the UFC once tried to pay him money to not fight in the UFC. It has been revealed to be untrue.
It was widely regarded as one of the feel-good stories to come out of mixed martial arts (MMA) in the last few years that New Zealand born, Australian resident Mark ‘Super Samoan’ Hunt was once offered to ‘go away’ with a cash payout from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) when they acquired his contract as part of the purchase of Pride Fighting Championships in 2007. UFC president Dana White would frequently describe that time and the contrast to now as Hunt has gone on to be one of the best MMA heavyweights in the world. Instead of taking the payout, Hunt decided he wanted to fight out the remainder of his contract with the UFC to prove them wrong about trying to get rid of him.
In a conference call MMAmania.com held with Mark Hunt, Christina Denning from law firm Higgs, Fletcher and Mack, and Hunt’s long-time attorney Michael Connette, Connette ruined what was a much-celebrated story about Hunt.
“Mark and I ended up suing the UFC in Japan based on his Pride contract. Dana White states it incorrectly when he says ‘we paid him to go away.’ No that’s not true. Mark sued them for breach of contract and they paid handsomely to Mark for that breach of contract.”
Connette continued, “They didn’t pay him to go away. They paid him for breach of contract. We sued them and we settled. I’m not going to talk about that settlement, but I don’t think we can anyways. That was a rough start with the UFC. Actually, one of the lawyers that represented the UFC, he was a big Mark Hunt fan and he made sure that Mark got a contract with the UFC after that lawsuit was over and Mark starting appearing with the UFC.”
So it appears that Mark Hunt got the money and also got his UFC contract. This shows that Hunt is not in unfamiliar waters when it comes to legal issues with the UFC. He is currently at loggerheads with the UFC over suggested changes to his contract he insists will be the only way he will set foot back in the octagon. He wants to have amendments made that will trigger monetary penalties if his opponents test positive to performance enhancing drugs.
As far as the feel-good story that Mark Hunt was once offered money by the UFC to ‘go away’ but decided he wanted to fight out his contract and ended up proving the UFC wrong, he still is one of the best comeback tales to grace MMA. There may be another comeback story to come for the ‘Super Samoan’ if and when he can sort though the next challenge in his path.