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THE ART OF THE CROSSOVER: MMA & BOXING

by Dominic Hadi

In the history of sport, we have seen successful athletes try their hand at new sports. From the likes of Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson, it appears for a handful of the elite conquering one sport was not enough. Although the second sport may not always be as successful as the first (sorry MJ) the fact they still attempt to break the mould will always bring both respect and scepticism.

Previously seen as a somewhat a rare occasion, this mindset of multi-sports has become a much more regular occurrence between two sports, in particular, boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) with several mixed martial artists entering the squared ring or at least discussing their plans to do so. Many fans would argue the two sports are so similar that the switch should happen more often, however when an MMA fighter trains for every aspect of the sport of mixed martial arts; boxing is only a factor, not to mention the boxing approach in MMA will always have the threat of a kick, clinches or takedowns to interrupt the flow at any point of the fight.

For many, the argument of how an MMA fighter would do in a boxing match was answered on August 27th 2017 when undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50-0) finished former two-division UFC champion Conor Mcgregor (boxing record now 0-1) in the 10th round of their Queensbury Rules match. Surprised at how well Conor did, this fight is the top of the mountain being the second biggest boxing PPV in the world between two icons of their respective sports.

But what about the others? the ones that aren’t on PPV and involve fighters who are looking for more than one fight and who big payday who believe they can compete in one sport after the other or in certain cases simultaneously. Just last week the recently retired UFC veteran Ross Pearson won his professional Boxing debut via 2nd round TKO after 10 years and 26 bouts in the premier MMA organisation. After a decade on the big stage in one sport, the 34 year old has now put his focus to the sport he first began in school alongside Judo.

Going from a decade in an organisation (and basically a sport) that was only founded 26 years ago to a sport that began centuries before is something special, but for years the biggest crossover tease was between the two best of their respected sports at the time. UFC Middleweight GOAT Anderson Silva (boxing 1-1) constantly teasing the idea of a Boxing match between himself and pound for pound boxing legend Roy Jones Jr (66-9) while both were ruling their respective divisions. Though it never materialized it was this type of hype that laid the foundation for the likes of Mayweather/ McGregor or former multi weight world champion James Toney (77-10-3-2 NC) fighting former two-division champion and MMA Pioneer Randy Couture at UFC 118, where Toney was submitted in the 1st round by the decorated wrestler.

The James Toney situation was the first of its kind in the modern era of the UFC, but the MMA fighter in the boxing game is one that is much more prevalent. Whether it be before they the move over to MMA like former UFC Bantamweight Champ Cody Garbrandt being a stand out in amateur boxing, after they appear to be done with the octagon such as Ross Pearson or fighting the two sports side by side with the likes Bellator stand out Michael ‘Venom’ Page (boxing 2-0) and eleven fight UFC veteran Fabio Maldanado (boxing 25-2) doing so. Maldanado now has the biggest Boxing match of his career when on May 25th he clashes with the always dangerous Michael Hunter (16-1) in the MGM National Harbor, Maryland on the Matchroom US card.

These are just some of the names who have stepped in both the ring and cage, but it would seem this trend is nowhere near finished as both sports continue to capture fighters and fans alike worldwide. For me personally I welcome seeing MMA fighters attempting the boxing ring, but when it comes to boxers committing to an MMA with little to no ground training like Toney did that’s when it gains the “freakshow” tag which unfortunate to see when it comes to the toughest men on earth in either sport.

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