Tyson Fury's Futile MMA Challenge Should Be Ignored Instead of Being Promoted
Over the past few years, the concept of boxers calling out mixed martial artists has somehow become commonplace in the industry.
It may have started before 2007, but at that time, pound-for-pound boxing king Floyd Mayweather hurled an insult at MMA fighters stating in an interview with Yahoo! Sports that "UFC champions can't handle boxing, that's why they are in the UFC."
Following that declaration, UFC President Dana White responded saying that then-lightweight champion Sean Sherk would "whoop his ass in under two minutes." Mayweather never responded, but former light middleweight champion Kermit Cintron instead took up the battle for boxing, saying he would take the fight with Sherk.
The fight never came to fruition, but the idea of boxers calling out MMA fighters hasn't stopped since then.
Lately, it's been British heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury and his undying campaign to face UFC champion Cain Velasquez inside the Octagon.
Fury has told anybody who will listen that he could mop up the current UFC champion without much difficulty and then get back to his chosen sport of boxing without skipping a beat.
"I have challenged him before and would consider taking him on in a one-fight deal," Fury recently told BoxingScene.com. "I would beat him and then return to boxing."
UFC President Dana White even chose to respond to Fury's challenge, saying in a press release sent out to the media, "Come on over. We’ll make a deal. You want to fight Cain? Come on over here. You will get smashed.”
The fact of the matter is Tyson Fury's challenge is not only futile—it's obscene that the sport of MMA even entertains this fight as a possibility, and it's only compounded that we all pay attention to the constant call outs, which means we are all playing right into Fury's hand.
The truth at the heart of it all is that Tyson Fury is an untested heavyweight fighter who by all accounts isn't even near the top of his own division yet in the sport of boxing.
Sports Illustrated boxing columnist Chris Mannix critiqued Fury after his recent knockout of Steve Cunningham, which moved his record to 21-0, that he wasn't ready for a showdown with either of the Klitschko brothers, who currently rule the heavyweight boxing division.
The truth is, Fury isn’t ready for either Klitschko. Not yet, anyway. Peter Fury, Tyson’s uncle, who couldn’t work Fury’s corner last weekend because of visa issues, has done an excellent job molding Fury into a well rounded fighter. But Cunningham was only the Fury’s fourth fight working together and before that, Tyson confessed to lacking any discipline, occasionally drinking heavily the nights before a fight.
Add to that, The Ring Magazine currently has Fury ranked at No. 8 in the world in the heavyweight division—nowhere near title contention in his chosen weight class.
The idea that Fury could maximize publicity and somehow work out a deal to come to the UFC on day one and earn a shot against the best heavyweight in MMA is laughable, and we all need to stop entertaining the idea.
Fury fighting Velasquez in MMA is not only a mismatch—it's demeaning to the sport of MMA. It's no different than Velasquez, who has zero boxing credentials on his record, moving to that sport and challenging Wladimir Klitschko for his title.
These outrageous statements are meant to get the press in a frenzy, but not to actually put a fight together between Fury and Velasquez in MMA.
While some boxers have dabbled in MMA or looked to make that transition after their careers are seemingly over, the only "challenge" fight that's happened between an accomplished boxer and a former MMA champion took place at UFC 118 when Randy Couture dismantled James Toney in less than four minutes.
It would probably go even worse for Fury facing Velasquez in the prime of his fighting career.
Throughout this entire ordeal of Fury calling for a fight and the UFC somehow taking the challenge seriously, it's Velasquez who offered the most realistic response when speaking to ESPN Chicago.
I didn't know who he was until this. I think he's using my name to gain publicity, which he has done, everybody is bringing it up. I'm not a boxer. I'm a mixed martial artist, and if he wants to fight, he can go into the UFC and work his way up like everybody else does. Nothing is given to you in this world. To me, it's like don't talk about it, go ahead and do it. That's all I have to say about that.
As MMA continues to strive for mainstream acceptance, the UFC and media alike need to learn to ignore these kinds of challenges if the sport will be taken seriously.
If a middle-of-the-road football player decided he was going to play basketball, would the Miami Heat entertain the idea of him getting a spot in the starting five alongside LeBron James and Dwayne Wade? Of course not; no chance whatsoever.
The MMA world should react the exact same way the next time a boxer tries to get 15 minutes of fame calling out a champion if for no other reason than to get us all to point and write about it like it actually has a chance of happening—or would end any differently that Toney's feeble attempt to take out Couture three years ago.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report
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