Mark Hunt stayed on the attack for four rounds until he finally earned the TKO victory against Derrick Lewis in the main event from New Zealand.
It had been more than 15 years since Mark Hunt performed in front of his home crowd in New Zealand but he made the most of his main event fight against surging heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis with a fourth round TKO.
It was a very important moment for Hunt not only due to fighting at home but also because he was returning after a devastating knockout loss in his last trip to the Octagon so he undoubtedly wanted to get back on track on Saturday night.
The 43-year old veteran showed no fear in the face of one of the most ferocious finishers in the UFC after Lewis had knocked out five of his last six opponents.
To his credit, Lewis looked calm and composed in the face of a raucous crowd clearly working against him while facing a home country hero in Hunt.
IT IS ALL OVER! Mark Hunt with the finish! #UFCAuckland
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After opening with a couple of hard leg kicks, Lewis decided to target the head while trying to get to Hunt’s chin in the first minutes of the fight. Lewis fired off a couple of massive head kicks that came at Hunt in a hurry but the former K-1 kickboxing champion did a good job defending. The kicks definitely did some damage after Hunt saw a gash open up on his shin after blocking one of the shots from Lewis.
In return, Hunt began his attacks by walking Lewis across the Octagon before uncorking one of his signature uppercuts that nearly landed before the American circled out of trouble.
While he loves the walk off knockout, Hunt looked to chop down Lewis by firing off a series of leg kicks that sounded like a baseball bat slamming into a side of beef with a ton of impact each time he landed.
The second round saw the two heavyweight knockout artists start flinging leather with Hunt getting the action started with a massive right elbow that connected as he was caught in an exchange with Lewis on the feet.
The glancing shot rattled Lewis, who immediately backed away while Hunt gave chase while trying to put him away. Lewis did a tremendous job playing defence while hurt and Hunt stayed patient without overextending himself to get caught with a counter shot.
— UFC (@ufc) June 11, 2017
It almost backfired with Hunt stalking forward and Lewis unleashed a huge punch that seemingly connected flush but the New Zealand native just at the shot and kept moving.
Lewis came out energised at the start of the third round as he went on the attack with a barrage of punches early but his strategy also drained a lot of energy after a conservative start to the fight through the first 15 minutes.
With each passing minute, Lewis’ conditioning started to wane while Hunt saw the opening to begin targeting the body with punches and kicks throughout the round. Still, Hunt refused to over extend himself to prevent eating a counter shot from Lewis, who was tired but still very dangerous.
As the fourth round got started, Hunt saw that Lewis was exhausted with his chin held high and his hands down low and that was an open invitation for the veteran kickboxer to go on the attack.
Hunt started to jump forward with a barrage of strikes including a right hand that staggered Lewis and left him reeling against the cage wall. Smelling blood in the water, Hunt went for the kill by opening up a series of punches as Lewis could only cover up and hope to survive.
With each shot landed, Lewis just took more and more damage as Hunt kept unloading his punches like sledgehammers pounding cinderblocks. Finally, referee Mark Goddard saw enough and stepped into stop the carnage as Lewis stood back up and took a deep breath as Hunt celebrated the victory with his home crowd.
Afterwards, Hunt enjoyed the moment with both of his sons who joined him in the Octagon as he gets his seventh knockout since joining the UFC roster. As a longtime advocate against performance enhancing drug use, Hunt once again pointed to being a clean fighter as the hallmark of his latest victory as he earned another impressive win on Saturday night.
— UFC (@ufc) June 11, 2017
“It was a matter of time, Derrick’s a tough guy. I respect him because he doesn’t use steroids, I don’t think so,” Hunt said after the win. “I think we all need to band together to get rid of steroids in our sport and to make it an even playing field.”
Hunt may be the oldest fighter on the UFC roster, but it’s clear he can still hang with the best in the world after another victory in a main event.
As for Lewis, his six fight win streak came to an end and he also suffered through a lingering back injury, which he blamed for some of the problems he had moving around the Octagon on Saturday night.
Surprisingly, Lewis then announced that his loss to Hunt would likely be the last time he would step into the Octagon.
“That’s probably my last fight,” Lewis said. “I’m getting married next week and I don’t like putting my family through all this. Most likely it will be my last fight in the UFC.”
If that really is the end of Lewis’ career, he would walk away with a 18-5 record with one no contest while building a reputation as one of the most devastating finishers in UFC heavyweight history.
As for Hunt, he’ll move forward in the division while asking to face anybody who is still ahead of him in the official UFC rankings.
“Anybody above me is good,” Hunt said. “I stepped down for Derrick cause he was No. 6 but anyone above me I’ll take. I only got a few more fights left. For me if it ended here for me tonight, then so be it, I’ve had fun. I’ve had a good run, had a lot of fun, traveled the world. But it looks like it’s still continuing.”
This story originally appeared on FOX Sports US.