Tyson Fury, a high-profile heavyweight boxer from jolly ol' England, is at a crossroads in his career. Sitting on a 20-0 record, he is desperately seeking a fight with either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko, two brothers riding high atop the heavyweight boxing scene.
Out of equal parts frustration and preening, Fury is making waves in the MMA world as he calls out newly-minted UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. While the entire concept is ridiculous (and given the James Toney affair coming from that precise situation, unoriginal), Dana White should still make a call to Fury's manager.
Not for an immediate title shot, obviously. That would be silly. That said, look at the current state of the UFC's heavyweight division.
Zuffa currently owns a staggering majority of the world's heavyweight talent in MMA. Unfortunately, almost every major fighter in the division is nearing the tail end of their career.
Roy Nelson is 36 years old. Fabricio Werdum is 35.
On and on, the UFC's heavyweight division is downright dominated by fighters well over 30 years old. Mark Hunt (38), Matt Mitrione (34), Antonio Silva (33), Pat Barry (33), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (36), Josh Barnett (35), Frank Mir (33), Alistair Overeem (32), Daniel Cormier (33), Cheick Kongo (37), Lavar Johnson (35) and Shane Carwin (37) all have a timer floating over their heads, counting down to retirement.
There are some exceptions, but very few. Stipe Miocic and Travis Browne are both currently 30 years old. Shane del Rosario is 29.
All three are good fighters, sure. However, considering where they are in their careers at this time, their games are unlikely to evolve in any serious way. That in mind, the UFC only really has two true heavyweight prospects, Stefan Struve and Todd Duffee.
Obviously, two rising fighters is not nearly enough to buoy a division staring at a mass exodus over the next two or three years. It might not even be two, given Struve's propensity for suffering huge, scary knockouts.
Enter Tyson Fury.
We already know Tyson Fury is a good boxer. His record attests to that. At 24 years old, Fury has loads of time to improve, and a great deal of fighting ahead of him. The UFC should be looking to add fighters like Fury, who have plentiful skills in one area and the time, talent and motivation to fill in the rest.
That, after all, is how Pride got fighters like Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Hunt in the first place.
Obviously, MMA doesn't pay as much as boxing at the top levels. Floyd Mayweather makes downright absurd amounts of money on a per-fight basis (he made $32 million guaranteed for his fight with Miguel Cotto in May). On the flip side, Georges St-Pierre, possibly the UFC's single biggest draw at this point, makes about $5 million per fight.
On top of that, even if the UFC could match boxing dollar-for-dollar, Fury's challenges are probably all bark with no bite (though who knows, given how he is now setting his sights on Bob Sapp of all people).
Regardless, the UFC needs to start reaching out to younger heavyweights. If established fighters like Tyson Fury even hint at an interest in joining the UFC, it needs to bite.
While a title fight with Cain Velasquez is out of the question at this point, there is no reason to think Fury can't potentially work his way there within a couple years. That is precisely the kind of fighter the UFC needs right now.
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