Mark Hunt and UFC officials remained hopeful Tuesday that the heavyweight contender’s bout against Junior dos Santos at UFC 160 next weekend in Las Vegas will move forward as scheduled.
Hunt, a native of New Zealand, called his visa issues “some stupid misunderstanding” on a conference call with reporters. Hunt said on Twitter previously that the problem was the result of an arrest in 2002 when he was hauled in because "two dumb friends" started a fight.
“It was just something that happened a long time ago,” Hunt said. “This should be cleared up so I can fly out of here sometime this week.”
UFC spokesman Dave Sholler said the organization is working with federal officials to get Hunt’s visa issues resolved.
“This isn’t the first time that we had a travel or visa issue,” Sholler said. “We have some of the best people equipped to take care of these issues. We are pretty confident Mark is going to get out over the weekend.”
Hunt said on the call that the US State Department denied him a visa as recently as Monday. He’s been denied a flight to the US multiple times in recent days.
“I’m running out of time to get acclimatized,” Hunt said.
Sholler said the UFC hadn’t gotten to the point of coming up with a new opponent for dos Santos — or canceling the fight altogether.
“We remain confident we can get this issue resolved,” Sholler said. “As of right now, the co-main event for UFC 160 is Junior dos Santos against Mark Hunt.”
UFC’s immediate visa issues weren’t limited to Hunt. Reza Madadi, a Swedish national born in Iran, had to be replaced on the preliminary card for July 27’s UFC on FOX 8. Jorge Masvidal will instead take on Michael Chiesa in the lightweight fight, FOXSports.com learned Tuesday night.