Unfortunately for Mark Hunt the fairytale ending wasn't to be. On less than a months notice, the K-1 2001 champion stepped in for an injured Cain Velasquez to fight Fabricio Werdum for the interim UFC heavyweight title at last nights UFC 180 event in Mexico City. Prior to the bout Hunt was listed as high as a 4/1 underdog, however during the opening seven minutes he looked anything but an underdog.
Hunt started extremely well, landing with a grazing overhand right that put Werdum on the canvas inside the opening minute. The two giants continued to trade until midway through the round Hunt scored with a surprising takedown. Despite Werdum being a multiple time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion he was unable to get any offence going against Hunt, who seemed content to stay on top and score with occasional punches. With less than a minute remaining in the opening round they returned to their feet where Hunt stunned Werdum once again, sealing a decisive first round for the Kiwi.
Werdum looked very hesitant at the start of the second round as Hunt continued to land with punches, momentarily flooring Werdum with a right as the Brazilian attempted a leg kick. Hunt seemed to be in control, he had found his range, he was easily stuffing Werdum’s takedown attempts and appeared to be en route to an upset victory. That was until halfway through the second stanza where a beautifully timed leaping knee from Werdum stopped Hunt in his tracks. Follow up shots on the mat caused referee Herb Dean to intervene as Werdum finished off Hunt by technical knockout and was crowned the new interim UFC Heavyweight champion.
Elsewhere in California, Bellator MMA hosted their 131st event from the Valley View Casino Centre in San Diego. Featuring on the card was a battle between Glory veterans Joe Schilling and Melvin Manhoef. Coming into the bout Manhoef had won his two previous MMA contests in 2014, stopping both Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos and Doug Marshall in the first round with punches. Schilling on the other hand hadn’t competed in MMA for over six years and was coming off a losing effort in the final of Glory’s Middleweight tournament back in June.
It was Manhoef who struck first in the opening round dropping Schilling with an overhand right. Manhoef swarmed frantically to finish however Schilling was able to move around just enough to avoid the referee stopping the bout. After brief period of inactivity on the mat, the referee stood the two up and they continued to exchange until the bell sounded. It was an electrifying opening round but one that definitely would have been scored in favour of Manhoef.
The second round started with Schilling being the aggressor, pushing Manhoef back against the cage with combinations. After a counter left-hook from Manhoef had Schilling reeling once again, Schilling was able to capitalise on Manhoef being overzealous landing a swift one-two that instantly put the Dutchman to sleep a mere 32 seconds into the second round.