Heavy-handed and iron-chinned UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt takes on Alistair Overeem at UFC 209 in Las Vegas on March 4th, but the New Zealand native is also gearing up for another tough battle – against his promoters in court.
ESPN reported on Tuesday night that the combat sports veteran has filed a civil suit against not only the UFC, but also company president Dana White and his most recent opponent Brock Lesnar.
Samples that Lesnar submitted to the United States Anti-Doping Agency(USADA) a couple of weeks prior to his bout with Hunt at UFC 200 last July and on the night of the fight itself tested positive for a banned substance called Hydroxy-clomiphene, which counteracts the negative effects of the hormone oestrogen and is often used in conjunction with anabolic steroids or in the aftermath of steroid usage.
In December, Lesnar was fined 10% of his $2.5 million disclosed purse and handed a one-year ban by the Nevada Athletic Commission for his transgressions. Subsequently, USADA also hit Lesnar with a 12-month ban.
Ever since news of Lesnar’s failures emerged, Hunt has vociferously criticised the UFC’s handling of the entire situation, pre-fight as well as post-fight. Many of the allegations made in the suit are reiterations of points that Hunt has already made, often using more colourful language, in the months since the fight.
Prior to UFC 200, Lesnar had not fought since December 2012, when he was stopped in a round by the aforementioned Overeem. That fight took place long before the promotion began implementing it’s current drug-testing program.
Due to the length of Lesnar’s absence and the fact that his most recent activity pre-dated the USADA era, UFC brass allowed their former heavyweight champion to return to competition without being subjected to the four months of testing that would normally be required of an athlete making a comeback.
“Given Lesnar last competed in UFC on December 30, 2011, long before the UFC Anti-Doping Policy went into effect, for purposes of the Anti-Doping Policy, he is being treated similarly to a new athlete coming into the organization,” read a statement released by the UFC in June.
The UFC’s decision to allow Lesnar to forego this testing, alleges the suit, shows a “knowledge or willful indifference to the fact that Lesnar was using banned substances.”
It is also noted within the suit that the UFC and USADA chose not to pay a “nominal fee” in order to expedite Lesnar’s pre-fight test results.
The UFC did all of this to enhance “their own profit at the expense of fighter safety and fair competition” claim Hunt and his legal team. The suit also accused the company of consistently and wrongfully “jeopardizing fighter health and safety for profit(via MMAFighting).”
“I want the UFC to understand it’s not OK to keep doing what they’re doing,” Hunt told ESPN. “They’re allowing guys to do this. They had a chance to take all the money from this guy, because he’s a cheater, and they didn’t.
“What message is that sending to the boys and girls who want to be a fighter someday? The message is, ‘You just have to cheat like this and it’s OK.’ In society, if you commit a crime, you pay. Why is it different in MMA? It’s hurt the business, so it’s even worse. They need to be held accountable for this.”
Hunt’s lead attorney, Christina Denning said that Hunt is seeking “millions” in damages.