The biggest criticism of Mark Hunt since his lawsuit against the UFC was reported last week was that he said before fighting Brock Lesnar that he thought Lesnar was using performance-enhancing drugs.
On Monday, Hunt responded to that criticism on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, saying he couldn’t possibly have known for sure that Lesnar was using anything.
“Knowing and assuming are two different things,” Hunt said. “I assume a lot of stuff. I mean, look at the guy. He comes from a pro-wrestling background. I didn’t actually know these things. I’ll always say, ‘Well, he looks like he’s cheating.’ Of course I’m gonna say it, because that’s the way I am.”
Hunt famously told Fox Sports Australia in June, about a month out of UFC 200, that he thought Lesnar was “juiced to the gills.”
Last week, Hunt’s legal team filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court naming the UFC, Lesnar and UFC president Dana White, claiming racketeering, fraud and negligence, among other complaints. Lesnar failed two drug tests in relation to UFC 200 after the UFC waived him from the full four months of drug testing and USADA did not expedite a pre-fight, out-of-competition test.
The UFC granted Lesnar an exemption from that “four-month rule” for returning athletes, because he retired in 2011, long before USADA became the UFC’s anti-doping partner, and did not officially signed to fight Hunt until about a month before UFC 200. USADA did get back five clean drug tests from Lesnar before UFC 200.
Lesnar also failed a fight-night drug test for the same substance, clompihene. He was suspended one year and fined $250,000 by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) and also given a mirror one-year suspension by USADA. Lesnar has denied knowingly taking the banned drug.
Hunt’s lawyer Christina Denning told Helwani that she doesn’t believe Hunt saying Lesnar was “juiced” minimizes anything in the lawsuit.
“That doesn’t take away from the UFC’s obligation to ensure an even playing field in the sport and fair competition,” Denning said.
Hunt said he was speaking off the cuff, as he normally does, about Lesnar’s appearance. He was also unhappy back in June when it was announced that Lesnar would have to go through the full four months of drug testing before competing.
“I didn’t actually go and test him myself,” Hunt said. “Everyone says, ‘You knew.’ I didn’t actually know. Assuming someone is doping is different from knowing. That’s the difference here. I didn't know. I assume everybody is on an even playing field up at the top until they get caught.”
There was also an element of pre-fight hype involved in Hunt’s quotes as well, Denning said.
“Having admitted that I’m not an expert in the UFC and the history of the sport, I’d imagine there’s a certain level of talking smack that goes on before the fights, right?” the attorney said. “That’s part of the whole thing, is being able to say, ‘I’m gonna kick your ass’ to your opponent.”
Hunt admitted suing the UFC, Lesnar and White could present issues for him, but he believes in what he is doing. Part of the complaint asks the UFC to strip Lesnar of his purse and possibly bonuses and give the money to Hunt.
“Of course it’s always a problem, but it’s what’s right,” Hunt said. “People say it’s about money, well it’s about grabbing a cheater’s money. It’s about taking the cheating out of the sport and making it even. It’s about an even playing field for me, at the end of the day.”
As we remember, Brock Lesnar has dismissed claims of doping made by UFC 200 opponent Mark Hunt.
The WWE superstar will enter the octagon for the first time in nearly five years when he takes on the 'Super Samoan' in the co-main event of the promotion's showpiece on July 9.
His shock MMA return has not only been met with widespread intrigue and excitement, but also the recurrence of the performance-enhancing drug allegations that have surrounded him throughout his professional career.
Hunt and a number of others have taken exception with the UFC's decision to Lesnar an exemption from the standard four months of drug testing that must take place before a fighter can compete.
The UFC's anti-doping policy, led by USADA, allows for this in 'exceptional circumstances' and the late deal between the WWE and the UFC falls into this category.
'I think he's juiced to the gills and I still think I'm going to knock him out,' Hunt told FOX Sports Australia last month.