UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt is taking the planet’s premier mixed martial arts promotion head-on. On Tuesday, the veteran filed a civil suit in Las Vegas against the UFC, company president Dana White and former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
According to ESPN.com, who broke the news, the lawsuit claims the UFC granted Lesnar an exemption on the USADA’s four-month drug testing window prior to a fight with “knowledge or willful indifference to the fact that Lesnar was using banned substances.”
The suit also alleges the UFC and Lesnar knew about his comeback fight well before it was officially announced in June, therefore Lesnar could have entered the four-month testing pool before facing Hunt at UFC 200.
Lesnar initially posted a lopsided unanimous decision victory over Hunt in the historic show’s co-main event, but had the win overturned to a no contest after it was revealed he flunked multiple drug tests.
Hunt is reportedly seeking damages “in the millions.”
“I want the UFC to understand it’s not OK to keep doing what they’re doing,” Hunt told ESPN.com. “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 called it from the jump. Immediately after the UFC exercised the option “to grant an exemption to the four-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an Athlete,” Hunt accused Lesnar of using performance-enhancing drugs.
“I think he’s juiced to the gills … I don’t think [the USADA exemption is] fair. I think it’s load of bulls**t, I think it’s rubbish,” Hunt told Fox Sports Australia at the time. “I don’t think anyone should be exempt from testing. If they’re trying to clean the sport up, mixed martial arts, this is a bad way to do it. I don’t care who you are. It’s ridiculous.”
The UFC claimed they were treating Lesnar like a new athlete to the organization since their revamped drug testing policy wasn’t in play the last time Lesnar competed for the promotion in December 2011. “However, [the UFC] did notify Lesnar in the early stages of discussions that if he were to sign with the UFC, he would be subject to all of the anti-doping rules.”
Lesnar proceeded to fail failed two separate drug tests for the anti-estrogenic agent Hydroxy-clomiphene. The first one was conducted during an out-of-competition screening by the USADA on June 28. The second one came the night of his July 9 fight against Hunt.
Hunt immediately demanded a piece, and then all, of Lesnar’s then-UFC-record $2.5 million show purse to no avail. It is believed Lesnar walked away with much more after receiving his piece of card’s pay-per-view buys.
Last month, Lesnar struck a deal with the Nevada Athletic Commission, the committee who oversaw UFC 200, to pay $250,000, 10 percent of his purse, serve a one-year suspension, which isn’t a big deal because Lesnar was on a one-off loaner from the WWE for UFC 200, and have his win over Hunt overturned to a no contest.
Hunt made a disclosed salary of just $700,000.
“Once we found out the penalty was only 10 percent of his purse, we went back to the UFC and offered to accept [Lesnar’s] purse amount, less than the $250,000 penalty,” Hunt’s attorney Christina Denning told ESPN.com. “We also wanted them to accept the clause moving forward.
“Mark says the penalties aren’t harsh enough. What’s interesting is that the penalties are harsh enough on paper, they’re just not being enforced by the UFC.”
Prior to accepting a scrap with Alistair Overeem at UFC 209, Hunt was requesting the UFC include a PED clause in the bout agreement where he would receive Overeem’s show and win money if he’s caught cheating. The clause was omitted, but Hunt was forced to accept the bout in order to make a living.
Three of Hunt’s past seven opponents flunked their post-fight drug tests for PEDs, so if anyone has a legitimate case on incorporating a PED clause, it’s him.
“I didn’t want to be in this position,” Hunt said. “It puts me in a weird spot because I’m still under contract. Fans say, ‘Mark, you knew he was juicing.’ I didn’t know. You look at him and think, ‘Yeah, he’s on the gear,’ but don’t judge a book by its cover and all that.
“This was the last straw. I lost that fight, it ruined it for my fans. It wasn’t good. I asked to get out of my contract but I can’t. I need to work like everyone else.”