Wilder Will Find More Than a Right Hand is Needed to Win in Cage
Francis Ngannou’s recent boxing match with Tyson Fury has opened eyes around the combat sports world. Ngannou scored a knockdown before ultimately losing a split decision, which left many people wondering how many other professional fighters had the athletic ability to cross over to different sports. There haven’t been many examples of people willing to try over the past 20 years since MMA became more mainstream.
However, as promoters look to create more buzz and try creative ways to sell events, more top fighters may be willing to cross over to earn a big payday. Deontay Wilder is a former heavyweight champion boxer who has expressed interest in giving MMA a go, according to trending boxing news.
With both Wilder’s resume and how other stars who have crossed over have done in mind, here’s a look at what to think of Wilder’s prospects.
Wilder is an Exceptional Athlete
Wilder has always been comfortable competing in pressure-filled environments. After coming through the ranks as an exceptional amateur, Wilder made the U.S. Olympic boxing team for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. While Wilder didn’t come away with gold, he still put up a solid showing by reaching the semifinals before earning a bronze medal.
Professional boxing would suit Wilder well. Wilder won the first 32 fights of his boxing career by knockout. He finally earned his title shot in 2015 when he fought Bermane Stiverne for the WBC heavyweight belt. After winning his first 32 fights by KO, Wilder’s fight against Stiverne was the first to end by decision.
Title Reign Lasts for Five Years
Wilder’s success didn’t slow down once he got the belt. An active champion, Wilder would defend his title seven more times before seeing a fight with Tyson Fury ended in a split-decision draw in 2018. Fury would eventually take the belt off Wilder with a seventh-round KO in 2020.
Wilder would attempt to get his title back from Fury in October 2021 but also lost by knockout. Wilder’s last boxing match was a first-round knockout win over Robert Helenius in October 2022. Anyone looking for boxing updates tonight will see that Wilder’s attempts to land other boxing matches have made him consider MMA.
Wilder will fight in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 23 on the same card as Anthony Joshua. There is a rumor that Wilder and Joshua may finally get their long-awaited meeting after each fighter battles with other opponents on the card.
Jake Paul Feud Spills Over
Nate Diaz and Jake Paul fought in a boxing match that Paul won by decision. There were always rumors of there being a second fight between the pair in MMA, which is Diaz’s primary sport. However, Diaz didn’t want to fight the MMA fight between him and Paul in the PFL.
That was a primary sticking point between the two men. Diaz, usually noted for his willingness to do wild things, has been looking elsewhere for a fight. When Wilder said he may be interested in MMA, Diaz encouraged him to create a contract, according to boxing news tonight.
Toney Provides Cautionary Tale
James Toney, the most accomplished boxer to fight in the modern UFC, decided to sign with the MMA promotion in 2010 at the age of 42. There were many reasons that there were better ideas than this. Toney’s age was an issue.
Also, Toney didn’t seem to respect MMA as a sport. Toney was a former heavyweight champion in boxing who had once knocked out Evander Holyfield. UFC President Dana White didn’t seem to have much respect for Toney either.
Instead of trying to build him up to make money, White matched him up in the octagon with former light and heavyweight champion Randy Couture. Couture was a strong grappler who had spent all of his career training in that era. Couture quickly dragged Toney down during the fight and submitted him in the first round.
Shields Also Had a Rough Ride
The PFL liked the idea of bringing on an accomplished boxer, Claressa Shields, as she transitioned to MMA. Shields, a champion in several boxing divisions, was in the prime of her career in her mid-20s and showed a desire to learn the sport. Shields found her way to Jackson Wink MMA Academy to accomplish that.
But the PFL again made a puzzling decision in promoting here. Instead of trying to pair Shields up with strikers to highlight her strong boxing, Shields was put in the cage with excellent grapplers. During Shield’s first MMA fight, she was behind on the scorecards after two rounds before beating Brittney Elkin by TKO.
In Shields’ second fight, she was outwrestled by unknown fighter Abigail Montes before losing a split decision at PFL 10 on Oct. 27, 2001. Shields hasn’t fought in the PFL since the loss to Montes.
Can Wilder Do It?
The MMA world is desperate for exciting heavyweights that are active. Many heavyweights don’t possess knockout power and spend most fights boxing out of the clinch or engaging in dull grappling affairs. Wilder has the power to destroy his opponents even with heavier boxing gloves.
With lighter MMA gloves on, Wilder’s power may be amplified. If Wilder could find a way to harness that power, as well as find a way to build up a ground game, he should be in a position to be successful. What Wilder must do, though, is take the overall training seriously.
Ngannou’s fight with fury has the entire fighting world buzzing. With more promoters willing to get fights sanctioned despite one combatant having almost no experience in one of the disciplines, Wilder is an intriguing prospect to leap MMA. Unless Joshua’s latest boxing news changes, Wilder should have his schedule open for different opportunities.
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