Mixed martial arts: Hard watch backing father

Caleb Popata-Hunt holds  a signed pair of his father’s UFC gloves at the New Zealand Fight and...
Caleb Popata-Hunt holds a signed pair of his father’s UFC gloves at the New Zealand Fight and Fitness Academy in Dunedin. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago Polytechnic student Caleb Popata-Hunt does not find it especially easy watching his father take to the UFC ring, but he will be in the thick of the action at the sporting star's next fight in Las Vegas.

Popata-Hunt, son of New Zealand mixed martial artist Mark Hunt, will lead the fighter out for his weigh-in before his heavyweight bout with Brock Lesnar at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas early next month.

The 21-year-old, who moved to Dunedin from Feilding to study in 2014, has been in the crowd for his father's past six fights, and said it was not always pleasant seeing him in action.

"I do get nervous. It's hard to watch, but I know it's his job,'' he said.

"That's what he's told me since I was young. It's always been his job.''

Sydney-based Hunt, who won the World Grand Prix kickboxing event in 2001 before turning to MMA, will fight former heavyweight champion Lesnar in the UFC 200 co-main event on July 9.

Popata-Hunt was in Melbourne in November, when his father defeated Antonio Silva by knock-out in the first round in front of 70,000 people at Etihad Stadium.

He was also ringside in Brisbane in March when his heavy-hitting father spectacularly knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir.

However, he had never been to the United States and the opportunity to be involved in the Las Vegas event, which included a star-studded card, would be an equally exciting occasion, he said.

"I'm pretty proud of him. I know he's getting on. He's getting older and I wanted to experience walking him out before he finishes.''

Popata-Hunt is in the third year of an applied science degree and hopes to become a trainer for professional fighters once he has graduated.

He has recently returned to training in jiu-jitsu - which he did for two years while living with Hunt in Sydney when he was younger -with Dunedin black belt Ryan Henry, at the New Zealand Fight and Fitness Academy.

He will travel to Las Vegas with his five siblings and stepmother for the fight.

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