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.
"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."
"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]."
Eric Jackman @NewYorkRic
.@DeronWilliams of the @cavs tells @arielhelwani that he plans to compete in jiu-jitsu tournaments in the future. https://t.co/bBV6tW9rPQ2017-5-15 20:27:06
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."
Until then, though, you'll probably find him on the mats getting some work in.