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Hunt finds ally in UFC VP Jeff Novitzky

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/03/2017 By Paul Johnson
Sydney-based Hunt will battle Brazilian Fabricio Werdum in the five-round main event of UFC 180 in Mexico City. © Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images Sydney-based Hunt will battle Brazilian Fabricio Werdum in the five-round main event of UFC 180 in Mexico City.

Veteran New Zealand fighter Mark Hunt is angry and he's suing the UFC but he's found an unlikely sympathiser.

UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky played a major role in bringing down the BALCO drug programme in the 2000's and then helped to clean up cycling.

He got to the UFC two years ago and has since helped implement the UFC's current anti-doping policy alongside USADA.

Novitzky knows a lot about doping and how to punish cheats and to that end he's uniquely positioned to speak about Hunt's current frustrations within mixed martial arts.

The Sydney-based heavyweight has been vocal after recent UFC fights against Frank Mir and most notably crossover UFC/WWE star Brock Lesnar resulted in positive drug tests for his opponents.

Hunt was also less than happy about fighting at UFC 209, in a losing effort against Alistair Overeem, a man who was caught doping in 2012.

Hunt unloaded on UFC management, including president Dana White, in Las Vegas in early March.

"Dana doesn't give a s**t about me or any other fighter," Hunt said before the March 9 fight.

"None of these guys do. At the end of the day I'm just another number. When my time is up I'm going to be out the door."

Novitzky understood Hunt's frustration but felt Hunt's assertion that he isn't cared about was misguided.

"I understand Mark's frustration 100 per cent but (it's) inaccurate that Dana doesn't care about him or any other athlete when it comes to anti-doping," Novitzky told AAP.

While the lawsuit between Hunt and the UFC is ongoing and what the future holds for both parties is unclear, Novitzky indicated that he wants to see Hunt continue his career in the Octagon.

That career could see a fight in Hunt's native New Zealand on June 11 when the company heads back there for the first time since 2014.

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