Mark Hunt's short national nightmare apparently is over.
The heavyweight, slated for the co-main event this Saturday at UFC 160 in Las Vegas, had been stuck in Australia due to a visa issue, threatening his trip to the States to compete in what amounts to the biggest fight of his MMA career.
But on Sunday, Hunt posted on hisTwitter account that he has obtained his visa, clearing the way for him to head to the other side of the world for Saturday's fight. Hunt also this past Friday received his license from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the bout.
Hunt (9-7 MMA, 4-1 UFC) will fight former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos (15-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in what is expected to be a title eliminator, with the winner very likely moving on to meet the winner of the night's main event current champ Cain Velasquez and top contender Antonio Silva.
The UFC 160 main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.
With Hunt still stuck in Australia this past week, he participated in a conference call with media members and said he was hopeful the situation would be sorted out. And UFC officials said a team was working on the problem and was confident Hunt would be in the United States by week's end.
That timetable won't quite prove to be accurate, but at the very least Hunt should be in Las Vegas by the UFC's standard fight week time table, which typically has fighters arriving on Tuesday for a Saturday event.
That may not be exactly ideal for Hunt, who has said that a previous fight in Las Vegas that had him in town just four days ahead of the fight had him feeling sluggish.
"I'm just running out of time to get over there and acclimatize," Hunt said on this past Tuesday's media call.
Hunt said the problem leading to his visa issue arose from "a stupid misunderstanding" and "something that happened a long time ago," apparently a past legal issue that was holding up the process.
But with the visa hurdle cleared, the former PRIDE fighter and standout kickboxer now is set for his fight with Dos Santos – with the knowledge that UFC President Dana White has said a dominant performance could earn Hunt a shot at the belt. The New Zealand native, who now lives in Australia, has won four straight, including a "Knockout of the Night" win over Stefan Struve in March.
Hunt stepped in for Alistair Overeem, who was scheduled to fight Dos Santos, but pulled out with an injury.
The UFC next returns to Brazil next month for UFC on FUEL TV 10. But in August, a return to Rio de Janerio has been confirmed.
The UFC 163 pay-per-view, as expected, will take place Aug. 3 at HSBC Arena. The card will be headlined by a featherweight title fight between champ Jose Aldo(22-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Anthony Pettis (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who drops down from lightweight, where he was the top contender.
In addition, a welterweight bout between Demian Maia (18-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) and Josh Koscheck (17-7 MMA, 15-7 UFC) also is official for the card.
UFC officials made the announcement at the post-event news conference for UFC on FX 8, whichMMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) attended. UFC on FX 8 took place at Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Though HSBC Arena has long been expected to host the event in Rio, as previously reported, final contracts had not yet been finalized. But that hurdle has been cleared, paving the way for the UFC's fourth trip to the city in the past two years.
Aldo will come into the fight on a 15-bout win streak. He hasn't lost since 2005. In February, he beat former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision in his first fight in more than a year.
Pettis beat Donald Cerrone in January and was named the top contender for Benson Henderson's lightweight title, riding a three-fight win streak. But he asked for a chance to move down and challenge Aldo and received it.
Koscheck has lost back-toback fights for the first time in his career. He dropped a split decision toJohny Hendricks at UFC on FOX 3, then was knocked out by Robbie Lawler this past February at UFC 157. He'll fight in Brazil for the first time.
Maia has won three straight since dropping down to welterweight, including a dominant performance over former title challenger Jon Fitch at UFC 156 in February.
Vitor Belfort, Ronaldo Souza, Lucas Martins and Jeremy Larsen each earned $50,000 bonuses for their performances at Saturday's UFC on FX 8 event.
Belfort earned the "Knockout of the Night," Souza won "Submission of the Night" and Martins and Larsen picked up "Fight of the Night" honors.
UFC officials announced the winners following Saturday's card.
UFC on FX 8 took place at Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil. The main card aired on FX following prelims on FUEL TV and Facebook.
In the main event, Belfort (23-10 MMA, 12-6 UFC) turned in one of the best knockouts in recent memory when he drilled Luke Rockhold (10-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) with a spinning back kick flush on the chin. Rockhold, the final Strikeforce middleweight champion, dropped immediately and Belfort finished him on the ground. It was the second straight head kick knockout win in Brazil for Belfort after losing a light heavyweight title fight to Jon Jones this past September.
Souza (18-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made an impressive UFC debut by submitting Chris Camozzi (19-6 MMA, 6-3 UFC) with a first-round arm-triangle choke. The former Strikeforce middleweight champion made easy work of Camozzi, who took the fight on short notice, moving up the card from a fight against Rafael Natal when Constantinos Philppou pulled out of the fight with Souza with an injury.
Martins (13-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) and Jeremy Larsen (8-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) battled back and forth for the first two rounds of the night's opening fight, trading big bombs and momentum swings. Although the first 10 minutes were a little short on technical mastery, they were high on excitement. But quickly in the third, Larsen walked right into a Martins punch while landing one of his own, and he was out on the canvas with two Martins follow-up shots for good measure.
UFC on FX 8 main card recap: Vitor stuns, “Jacare” puts Camozzi to sleep, Natal, dos Anjos earn decisions
Event results for UFC on FX 8, which took place Saturday at the Jaraguá Arena in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Main Bouts (Live on FX, 9:00 PM ET)
- -Vitor Belfort def. Luke Rockhold via KO (spin-kick, punches), Rd 1, 2:32
- -Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza def. Chris Camozzi via submission (arm-triangle choke), Rd 1, 3:37
- -Rafael dos Anjos def. Evan Dunham via decision (29-28x3)
- -Rafael Natal def. João Zeferino via decision (30-27, 29-28x2)
- Preliminary Bouts (Live on Fuel TV, 6:00 PM ET)
- -Nik Lentz def. Hacran Dias via decision (28-27, 29-28x2)
- -Francisco Trinaldo def. Mike Rio via submission (arm-triangle choke), Rd 1, 3:08
- -Gleison Tibau def. John Cholish via submission (guillotine-choke), Rd 2, 2:34
- -Paulo Thiago def. Michael Prazeres via decision (29-28x3)
- -Yuri Alcantara def. Illiard Santos via TKO (punches), Rd 1, 2:31
- -Fabio Maldonado def. Roger Hollet via decision (29-27x2, 29-28)
Preliminary Bouts (Live on Facebook, 4:35 PM ET)
- -John Lineker def. Azamat Gashimov via TKO (punches), Rd 2, 1:07
- -Jussier Formiga def. Chris Cariaso via decision (29-28x3)
- -Lucas Martins def. Jeremy Larsen via KO (punches), Rd 3, 0:13
Weigh-in results for UFC on FX 8, which took place Friday at the Jaraguá Arena in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Main Bouts (Live on FX, 9:00 PM ET)
- -Vitor Belfort (186) vs. Luke Rockhold (186)
- -Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (186) vs. Chris Camozzi (186)
- -Rafael dos Anjos (156) vs. Evan Dunham (156)
- -Rafael Natal (186) vs. João Zeferino (185)
Preliminary Bouts (Live on Fuel TV, 6:00 PM ET)
- -Hacran Dias (146) vs. Nik Lentz (145)
- -Francisco Trinaldo (154) vs Mike Rio (156)
- -Gleison Tibau (156) vs. John Cholish (156.2)*
- -Paulo Thiago (170) vs. Michael Prazeres (171)
- -Yuri Alcantara (134) vs. Illiard Santos (136)
- -Fabio Maldonado (205) vs. Roger Hollet (204)
Preliminary Bouts (Live on Facebook, 4:35 PM ET)
- -John Lineker (126) vs. Azamat Gashimov (126)
- -Jussier Formiga (126) vs. Chris Cariaso (126)
- -Lucas Martins (153) vs. Jeremy Larsen (155)
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