Cavs Guard Deron Williams Owns MMA Gym, Wants to Compete in BJJ in the Future

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2017

Cleveland Cavaliers' Deron Williams (31) drives past Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) in the first half in Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

You never know where you might find an MMA fan.

Back when the sport was underground, they could be anywhere—at work or school, sitting next to you at a movie theatre or alongside you on a treadmill at the gym.

Now though, in modern times, you tend to find them in some pretty prestigious places.

Among them? The NBA.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Deron Williams appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani Monday, discussing his love for MMA and his investment in the sport.

"I've been watching [MMA] for a while, just growing up being a wrestler," he told Helwani. "As the years have gone on, I ended up meeting different UFC fighters and befriending a couple and really got into it because of that. ... I just have a love for the sport; I train as well, so I think that brings me even closer."

Williams is a former state wrestling champion in his youth and has an ownership stake in Fortis MMA, a Dallas-based gym that had ties to this past weekend's UFC 211.

"He fought hard, man," Williams said of Fortis MMA athlete Rashad Coulter, who lost by KO at the event. "He showed a lot of heart, and he battled. It's unfortunate that he didn't get the win, but he put on a heck of a fight and got that fight night bonus, which I know is big for him. I'm just happy for him to get the opportunity."

In fact, if not for practice obligations, Williams would have been there in Coulter’s corner.

"[The Cavaliers] had practice that day, the day of [UFC] 211, and [again] the next morning at 9 o'clock because of Mother's Day, so it would've been really hard to get there and get back. It would have been a lot of travel for it, but...I would have been in the corner if I was [there]."

That willingness to show up in a UFC corner is not as strange for Williams as it might appear to someone unfamiliar with the NBA star, as it's something he's done in the past at smaller shows. Furthermore, despite his best athletic feats coming on the hard court, Williams is looking to find some combative competition of his own down the line.

"I'm gonna do some [jiu-jitsu] tournaments for sure," he said. "I'll probably have to [wait until retirement]; it would probably be the smartest thing to do. I do mostly no-gi; I've done some gi, [but] it's just a little too slow-paced for me right now."

Williams and the Cavaliers have been off since sweeping the Toronto Raptors in the second round, and they await the winner of Monday's Game 7 between the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.

Until then, though, you'll probably find him on the mats getting some work in.

   

Follow me on Twitter @matthewjryder.