Boxing vs MMA | McGregor | Ali | Mayweather | UFC | Fury


Boxing and the UFC heavyweight world champions exchanged discussions about the fights on social media this week. Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou have sparked interest in a possible cross-code conflict. While two champions of their respective sports have never met in such a match, there have been a number of boxing matches against MMA over the years. Here’s a recap of a few memorable reunions over the years, starting with the battle that pretty much paved the way for MMA as we know it.

Ali vs Inoki was the big bang for mixed martial arts

Mohamed Ali vs. Antonio Inoki

The “avatar” of fighting, this boxer versus wrestler battle is known more for its cultural impact than its content. Inoki was the star and owner of New Japan Pro Wrestling, but his martial arts background was very real. A fight with reigning heavyweight boxing world champion Muhammad Ali was the genesis of the cross-code world of MMA.

The fight itself was a failure. Inoki lay down on the mat, fearing Ali’s punching power, and kicked ‘The Greatest’ legs. Ali would not go to the floor as he was also wary of Inoki’s mat techniques, as well as putting his head too close to the Japanese star’s educated feet. The result was a time-limited draw, but the fusion of styles would inspire others to integrate boxing and martial arts for generations to come.

Art ‘One Glove’ Jimmerson vs. Royce Gracie

In 1993, a tournament was held in which eight practitioners from different disciplines met in a competition to determine the best fighting system. The event was the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the first show from a company that would evolve into the modern UFC.

The first tournament featured boxer Art Jimmerson, who wore a single boxing glove in the octagonal cage to take on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Royce Gracie. The 28-5 light heavyweight was a solid fighter, but not among the boxing elite. Gracie, meanwhile, came from a family of legendary martial artists and was taking the first step in a Hall of Fame MMA career.

Jimmerson was subdued in two minutes by dominant Gracie, and he never had the chance to use that glove. “Zorro” would never compete in MMA again, instead returning to boxing where he retired with a 33-18 record which saw him share the ring with several former and future world champions. For the die-hards of the UFC, he’ll always be “One Glove”.

James Toney vs. Randy Couture

By 2010, the UFC had become a phenomenon. The company’s biggest events surpassed pay-per-view, and the original multidisciplinary tournament had spawned a whole genre of hybrid combat that combined the best of each discipline.

While the first UFC drew a mid-level boxer to Jimerson, in 2010 they caught the attention of the elite. Three-weight world champion James Toney rose to the challenge of breaking through boxing and fighting legendary Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture.

One of the great throwback fighters of his day, Toney fought like a man who believed his punching power would be enough. Against a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler in Couture, he never stood a chance. ‘Lights Out’ was easily knocked out, showing a lack of basic training in wrestling defense, and Couture easily maneuvered him into a triangular choke for the submission victory.

Toney’s purposeful approach might have served him better in the prehistoric simplicity of UFC 1, but in the era of the all-around athlete, he was a timeless man.

mcgregor is doing better than expected against

mcgregor is doing better than expected against “the money” mayweather

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

The biggest boxing and martial arts encounter since pioneer Ali-Inoki, reigning UFC lightweight champion, met the best boxer of the decade. Unlike Toney and Jimmerson’s fights, this would be a sanctioned boxing match.

The 49-0 Mayweather meeting a McGregor making his boxing debut didn’t stop the fight from being a financial juggernaut at the box office. The event was quite entertaining, with McGregor doing better than expected. This was helped by the fact that Mayweather, who had been out of the ring for two years, used a drug rope technique and allowed the UFC star to take the lead.

When Mayweather took it up a notch, he had no trouble stopping “Notorious” on lap ten. McGregor has emerged with more credit than most other fighters moving into a different sport, but it remains his only boxing match to date.

pulev has carved out his place in the triangular triller ring

pulev has carved out his place in the triangular triller ring

Triller Triad Combat

Why stage a boxing vs MMA confrontation, when you can put a lot of it? That was certainly Triller’s attitude when they designed Triad Combat. The concept includes a triangular ring and a hybrid rule set designed to accommodate fighters from both disciplines.

The first card was titled with world-class boxer Kubrat Pulev’s brutal victory over former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir. The show, which also featured live performances from thrash legends Metallica, was successful enough that Triller announced a sequel.

The follow-up show is expected to feature Pulev against another former UFC heavyweight king at Junior dos Santos, as well as a main co-event between Vitor Belfort and former ‘Bad’ cruiserweight world champion Chad Dawson.


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