"Thank you for my visa, father".

If you think Sydney-based mixed martial artist Mark Hunt has been down on his knees praying for the US Consulate to grant him a work visa so he can fight at UFC 160 in Las Vegas this weekend, then you'd be right.

 

Thank u for my visa father

— mark richard hunt (@markhunt1974) May 19, 2013

 

This morning, it appeared Hunt's prayers had been answered, with the "Super Samoan" revealing the good news via Twitter.

It's been a two-week battle for Hunt to obtain a work visa that would allow him to travel to the USA to fight former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos in a bout that could secure him a shot at the organisation's heavyweight title.

Hunt had twice tried to board a flight in his native New Zealand this month, only to be stopped at the airport because he had been refused entry into the USA. The US Consulate's refusal to grant him a visa apparently stemmed from a 2002 incident in the USA, in which Hunt spent New Year's night in jail for public intoxication.

Bizarrely, Hunt has travelled to the US twice since for fights in the UFC without incident — yet in the lead-up to the biggest fight of his career, he has been dogged with problems trying to enter the country.

Hunt is expected to board a flight from Auckland to the US later today, giving him less than a week to acclimatise to the new time zone before his bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Sunday afternoon Australian time).

 

@kylecadra203 I got sore knees been praying

— mark richard hunt (@markhunt1974) May 19, 2013

 

Currently ranked number nine in the UFC's heavyweight division, a victory over dos Santos (ranked as the number one contender) would put Hunt right in the frame for a shot at the winner of the heavyweight title bout between Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva, which headlines UFC 160.

Hunt's against all odds, back from the scrapheap story has captured the imagination of fight fans the world over. After suffering his sixth consecutive loss in what was his UFC debut, the organisation tried to buy out the final two fights of a contract he originally signed with the Pride organisation before it was taken over by Zuffa (the UFC's owner).

Hunt refused, demanding the opportunity to fight out the remainder of his contract — since then, the now-39-year-old has put together four straight victories, pressing his claims for a shot at the UFC title and earning a new contract in the process. 

The UFC 160 card holds plenty of interest for Australian and New Zealand fight fans, with Hunt joined on the card by fellow Sydney-based fighters Jamie Te Huna and Robert Whittaker. Te Huna takes on number four-rated light heavyweight Glover Teixeira, while Whittaker — who won the welterweight division of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in December — takes on The Ultimate Fighter 16 winner Colton Smith.