There have been a host of MMA fighters that decided to change up their careers and step into the boxing ring to compete at the highest level. Having made a name for themselves in MMA, these fighters are not looking for entry-level opponents to test their pugilism: they want the big fight against a big-name opponent immediately. Let’s take a look at how MMA fighters stepping into the boxing ring creates problems and a couple of the more high profile MMA stars to enter boxing.
A boxing dilemma
These contests with MMA fighters pivoting to box professionally might capture the imagination of fans and attract plenty of attention in boxing betting due to it being a rare event, but they do present a hurdle for the respective boxing commissions. While all MMA fighters obviously train in boxing, allowing them to step immediately into the ring with elite boxers has been criticised in the past. We can only hope that due diligence is taking place before allowing MMA fighters to transition to boxing.
One such fighter who made the move to boxing after being a former kickboxing champion and professional MMA fighter is Dillian Whyte. His tantalising match-up against Tyson Fury will attract the viewers, yet the Fury vs Whyte betting odds suggest that Whyte will struggle against the Gypsy King as he is priced at 7/2 to win.
While Fury vs Whyte is the fight everyone is talking about right now, there are two big names that have paved the way for future MMA-to-boxing superstars and everyone is curious to see their next moves.
The first name people will think of when it comes to an MMA fighter stepping into the boxing ring. Bizarrely, Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor saw some of the most unusual big-money wagers ever, with huge numbers of fans betting on McGregor simply because there was little money to win betting on Mayweather. The bout enraptured avid fight fans and remains widely viewed as the most high-profile fight in combat sports history.
Although Mayweather defeated McGregor via a tenth-round technical knockout, many were surprised at his ability to box. Yet, commentators stated that he lacked the natural boxing intuition of a pure inside fighter and, were he to continue in a boxing career, he could be successful by keeping his opponents at the end of his long punches. While there was a suggestion that McGregor would fight Manny Pacquiao, it seems his boxing career will end with just one mega fight. Not a bad way to earn $30 million, though his opponent made more.
‘The Spider’ actually made his pro boxing debut in 1998 but didn’t compete in another pro boxing contest until 2005. The legend of UFC still holds the longest title reign in UFC history with 2,457 days, just ahead of Demetrious Johnson (2,142 days) and Georges St Pierre (2,064 days).
Silva was predominantly a stand-up fighter and accumulated considerable UFC offensive striking records. Still to this day, Silva is widely viewed as one of the finest strikers in the history of MMA and a considerable number of people inside UFC consider him the best of all time.
After losing to Uriah Hall in 2020 via technical knockout in round four, it was the end of Silva as a UFC fighter, but boxing beckoned. In 2021, Silva faced Julio César Chávez Jr. in the boxing ring and won via a split decision and then also defeated former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz in a pro boxing bout, the outcome of which was a win via knockout in round one. There are plenty of rumours about who he will meet next in the ring.
While some might consider these moves for MMA to boxing a shameless cash grab, there’s no denying that the audience is keen to see more events like Mayweather vs McGregor. While it seems unlikely that McGregor will step into the boxing ring again, he does like to surprise and Silva is certainly eager to show he has something to offer boxing fans.