UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt was pulled from a fight with Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Night 121 over medical concerns. In a recent interview, the fighter said he was showing symptoms of CTE.
“You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words,” he said to Australia’s Player’s Voice. “My memory is not that good anymore.”
However, after being pulled from the fight a livid Hunt said that he had been misquoted, and charged colorfully that UFC president Dana White had it out for him personally.
Now White has responded in an open letter, obtained exclusively by The Daily Telegraph.
Mark Hunt was never “cleared” to fight Marcin Tybura in Sydney, Australia this November. Period. And the statements he’s been making, saying that he is, are just not true.
Let me tell you what I know.
Mark Hunt recently wrote an op-ed piece for an Australian website that described some serious symptoms.
He wrote that he’s starting to stutter and slur his words.
He wrote that he’s not sleeping well.
He wrote that he can’t remember something he did yesterday.
These are his words, from him, but now he’s saying it was taken out of context. How can you take your own words out of context? So you know what I did? My team contacted his management within the first week of learning about these symptoms and offered to fly him to Las Vegas first class to visit the Lou Ruvo Brain Center — which is the best in the world for brain research — to get more tests done. And you know what? He absolutely refused.
How can I put a guy with these symptoms he said he’s experiencing immediately back in the Octagon without additional tests? I definitely wasn’t going to do that. So I did the only thing I could do — which is to pull him off an event that would have him fighting just nine weeks after writing his piece so he can have the proper time to see a specialist. Let me remind you that this is an event I already had signed contracts for and spent a lot of money marketing and advertising, so this was a big loss. But it was the right thing to do.
So here we are now. After all of this, Mark is saying that I have it out for him and I am holding a grudge because he filed a lawsuit. Let me ask you this:
Would I have placed him in two additional fights, including one in which he headlined the event?
Or paid him 1.645 million dollars, which includes a $50k Fight of the Night bonus and a $25k discretionary bonus?
All of this was AFTER the lawsuit, so how can anyone say I have any issues with this guy?
Bottom line, my job is to put on the best fights in the world and part of that is to protect these guys from themselves. I get it, they’re fighters and they want to fight. But this only works if safety comes first, and that’s always been my goal — to provide a level playing field and a safe, regulated environment for our fighters to compete in. I’ve been doing that for almost 20 years and I’m not going to stop now.
Anyone even considering which side is right here, White or Hunt, has lost their mind. Promoters in boxing, up to the highest levels, knowingly put fighters with clear signs of CTE into fights every single weekend. James Toney is 49, speaks abbada babbada, and fought in May for the World Boxing Underwear belt. And Puglistic Dementia in boxing is nothing new – it was described by a doctor in 1928.
MMA is not immune. Wanderlei Silva said last year he has 12 of 15 symptoms of concussion, and he’s signed with Bellator MMA. A fight promoter finally does the right thing and deserves nothing but applause. The point is not that Mark Hunt should never fight again, no one is saying that. The point is that when a 43-year-old heavyweight says he is losing his memory and slurring his words, further medical investigation is mandatory. And of course Hunt will resist it – he’s a fighter, that’s who he is. Hunt’s resistance is expected and understandable, even laudable. But here Mark Hunt it wrong and Dana White is right