Ranking 5 UFC Stars Who Could Have Success in Boxing
Yesterday, I wrote an article where I listed 10 great fighters who all boxing fans should enjoy while they still have the opportunity as those men are all within three or four years of their likely retirements.
When I had finished the article, I was left thinking that, without those fighters, boxing would be severely lacking in star power.
I spent some time going through the different divisions and trying to think of who could fill the void which will be created by the departures of those star names and came up with the obvious names such as Nonito Donaire, Saul Alvarez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andre Ward.
While those four fighters are wonderful talents and have the potential to be big draws, especially the Mexican duo, I don't think they will quite be able to sell PPVs like people such as Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Tonight, I was watching UFC 138 and heard Mike Goldberg talking about Brad Pickett's boxing skills, which got me to thinking about what fighters currently on the UFC roster could successfully make the transition to boxing.
While many MMA fans will say that there's no reason for any top UFC fighter to make a move to boxing, there is one reason that stands out a mile.
Loving legal tender is something that the top UFC fighters can earn plenty of if they are successful, but not anywhere close to the amounts they could earn in boxing. The UFC is the best paying organization in all of MMA, but even its top fighters make only a fraction of what their boxing counterparts take home.
Having studied the UFC roster and picked out the fighters who, in my opinion, have the best chance to make the transition I thought I'd put together a quick piece listing the top five who could have the most success.
I hope you enjoy.
P.S. I'm not sure why I have a picture of Don King up there, either.
5. Thiago Silva
Strengths: Good technique, KO power, solid chin
Thiago Silva loves to fight and will fight just about anyone at any time. If he were to move across to boxing, I think he could have good success in the cruiserweight division due to its current lack of top quality fighters as well as his own obvious skills.
While naturally a Muay Thai stylist, Silva possess very good boxing skills and can knock people out with either hand.
He's a huge light heavyweight in MMA and the cruiserweight limit in boxing is five pounds lower than his current class in MMA, but I think he could lose some of his muscle mass and benefit from increased speed.
He would need to spend time developing his cardio as that has, at times, shown to be an issue for Silva, but if he were to take it seriously, I think he could have a lot of success in boxing.
I think cruiserweight is probably the weakest division in boxing and with Silva's power and aggressive style, he would do quite well there. He might fall short of winning a major title, but it wouldn't surprise me if he picked up an IBO or WBU title.
He'd definitely earn more money in boxing because he's extremely badly paid in MMA.
4. Nick Diaz
Division: Light Heavyweight
Strengths: Cardio, Punch Output, Punch Accuracy
Weakness: Tendency to cut
Nick Diaz has spoken a number of times about his wish to compete in professional boxing and were it not for the title shot he was granted, and then had revoked, he likely would have already made the switch.
Diaz is the type of fighter people like to watch. He's aggressive, fearless and he doesn't take a round off.
He's also the type of fighter people love to hate because of his personality and the way he seems to disrespect almost every opponent that gets lined up against him.
Diaz has an unusual, but very effective boxing technique and tends to throw a lot of punches to the head which don't carry power before loading up with a big body shot. Because it's such an unusual style, it's very hard to prepare for and quite hard to offset.
He does tend to get hit quite a bit and while he has been knocked down in fights, he's got great powers of recovery and has never been stopped standing. His only TKO losses are due to ground-and-pound, which he won't have to worry about in boxing, and on cuts to KJ Noons.
The tendency to cut is a worry. Boxing medical officials tend to be a little stricter than those in MMA and Diaz could have a problem there.
I've suggested he compete in boxing at light heavyweight rather than super middleweight, which would be the closer match to his MMA weight class because I think he's more effective with a bit more weight on his frame and I think that cutting less weight will allow him to retain more power.
I think Diaz has the potential to be a contender at 175 because I don't think it's a particularly deep weight class. Whether or not he would be a big earner remains to be seen. I think he has the right sort appeal in that people will pay to see him lose and also because he's a very entertaining fighter.
3. BJ Penn
Division: Light Middleweight
Strengths: Power, Accuracy, Chin
This is a pretty obvious choice, as BJ has long been touted as having the best boxing in MMA and has recently said he's possibly finished in the octagon.
He's still a young man at just 32 and his one of the most naturally gifted people that any sport has ever seen. The biggest knock on BJ has always been his dedication.
A natural MMA lightweight, he has spent large portions of his career fighting bigger men at welterweight and that's partly the reason his record is not as impressive as it should be.
BJ's one of the most entertaining and one of the most popular fighters in MMA and I have no doubts that he could successfully make the transition to boxing if he were to really dedicate himself and work on his cardio, which is his own weakness in terms of boxing.
He possesses excellent technique, with good power and he's very accurate with his punches. He's also got good head movement and sees punches coming his way very quickly and finds ways to adjust.
The top guys at 154 are Cotto, Alvarez and Margarito. I don't think he would beat those three gentlemen, but with dedication and a few fights to find his bearings, I think BJ could definitely be a contender at 154.
His style of fighting and crossover appeal would likely make him a pretty big draw and I think he could make himself a lot of money in boxing.
2. Frankie Edgar
Strengths: Speed, Accuracy, Footwork
Weakness: Slow Starter
Frankie Edgar has shown in his last two fights that he is able to take a punch, appear to be completely out of a fight and then come back from the dead in pretty spectacular fashion. That's the type of thing fight fans pay good money to see.
Edgar's style of fighting makes him exciting to watch. He's a ball of energy and he's constantly moving. After the first three minutes of the fight, he's normally pretty hard to hit as well.
The only black mark against him is those first three minutes where he tends to leave himself really open to big punches and has almost been finished in his last two fights with Gray Maynard.
Prior to those two fights, he picked BJ Penn apart twice in a manner that nobody else had done before. He showed excellent boxing skills to outland Penn and take his title in their first meeting, and he simply overwhelmed him the second time they faced off.
Edgar would enter boxing at arguably its strongest weight class right now, but with big-name opponents come big paydays. I don't think Edgar would beat any on of boxing top welterweights, but I think he could do quite well against the majority using his footwork and head movement to get inside and land his own punches before moving out of range.
I think the fact that there are so many big names at 147 means that the chances of a big fight, and a bigtime payday are extremely high for Edgar and while he is pretty well-paid in UFC terms, he'd certainly be better off with what he'd make in boxing.
1. Junior Dos Santos
Strength: Power, Cardio, Chin
Weakness: None that have been displayed so far
This is the man I think would not only have the most success in boxing, but I think he could also win major titles and earn himself a whole pile of cash doing it. After Vitali and Wladimir say their goodbyes, of course.
Junior Dos Santos is, for my money, the best boxer in the sport of MMA. His technique has been honed over thousands of hours working in a boxing-specific gym and his power is the type that makes you wince when you see him land a big punch.
He's a fantastic fighter who loves to be aggressive and always goes for the kill. People pay to watch that, and they pay in greater masses to see heavyweights do it.
It's been a long time since boxing had a really exciting heavyweight fighter and I believe that with the lack of quality fighters in the division after the Klitschkos, should JDS decide to make the move, he could very well flourish in terms of success and earnings.
I think he'd need to make the switch in the next year or two and then spend another year or two building up his experience, but I think the talent, the drive and the attitude are there to really be successful.
He's also a very likable man who could be a big draw if he's marketed right. Saviour of heavyweight boxing, perhaps? Who knows? It would be fun to find out.
Thanks for Reading
And that ends that. My top five UFC fighters that I believe could have success in boxing from a competitive and financial point of view.
I've left off Georges St. Pierre who many will probably think would be the biggest draw if he made the switch purely because I don't believe he has the chin to compete in top level boxing and I think his safety-first fighting style would go down like a lead balloon in boxing.
Plus I don't think Dana White will ever let him make the move.
Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below.
I hope you've enjoyed the article. Thanks for reading.