So, just when it seemed that the two premier combative sports on the planet were content to agree to disagree and coexist as best they can, Junior dos Santos is coming out and saying he could knock out Wladimir Klitschko in what we assume to be a boxing match.
Eh, not so much.
Granted, there is no harm in one man having a strong opinion and a confidence in his own abilities. Dos Santos is the UFC heavyweight champ, and that’s no easy bull to ride. I think I would be more worried about him if he wasn’t confident.
But I do begin to worry when a certain MMA fighter begins to bring up the subject of how they could defeat a boxer in a boxing ring, over and over. Thinking about it whimsically is one thing, but to seriously contemplate the feat is another.
Dos Santos is not alone in his belief that he could easily transition to the world of boxing and dominate: Nick Diaz was in negotiations with boxing promoters to fight Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, and then we have Anderson Silva, who still seems to be holding on to the dream of boxing Roy Jones Jr.
God, please no.
Diaz, Silva and dos Santos have great boxing in the world of MMA, but in a boxing match they would get eaten alive.
In regard to dos Santos, either Klitschko brother would give him a pronounced beating, and Wladimir would almost surely knock him out. MMA-style boxing is a totally different animal than traditional boxing, built around the notion that you must be able to stuff takedowns, block kicks, etc—and that does not translate well into the world of professional boxing.
Compared to the Klitschkos, dos Santos has almost no defensive skills and far too many bad habits that would see him countered to death. It wouldn’t be competitive once dos Santos realized that his bull rushes and clinches don’t do much in boxing except get you warnings from the referee.
Diaz, for his part, seemed a bit more humble while he was pursuing an entry into the world of professional boxing—but Jeff Lacy would have probably taken his head off in the first round. Once again, severe defensive deficiencies (like little to no head movement) would see Diaz get hit flush—hard and often. Couple that with the power Lacy generates, and you get Diaz laying flat on his back, blinking into the overhead lighting.
Then, there is the case of Anderson Silva, who seems to want to fight Roy Jones Jr. simply because he idolizes the man and has a true love for professional boxing. There is a reverence Silva has when he speaks about the sport and Jones, which almost makes it easier to swallow.
But even against a well-past-his-prime Jones, Silva would get utterly annihilated. As bad as Silva made Griffin and Bonnar look, Jones would make him look worse. Silva may look like a defensive genius in MMA, but against a fighter with the speed and experience of Jones, he’d be very hittable.
A time must come when men such as dos Santos, Diaz and Silva finally understand that there is such a thing as serendipity. They are among some of the best MMA fighters of their divisions and generations because they were destined to be MMA fighters, not boxers.
Sooner or later, some successful, highly praised and thought to be unbeatable MMA fighter is going to let this kind of thinking go to his head, and he’ll leverage his fame and standing to get his wish: a boxing match with a good boxer.
Then, he’s going to get his pride and reputation handed back to him, in pieces, and he will carry those pieces to bed with him every night for the rest of his life. This might sound like a simple thing, but many a fighter doesn’t bounce back from a true humiliation, and given the enormous scope and spotlight the rivalry between MMA and boxing is…well, he’d have to move to the North Pole to avoid hearing about it.
More and more boxers are beginning to voice their admiration for MMA. For every uninformed comment by Zab Judah or Floyd Mayweather Jr., you have fighters and trainers like Wladimir Klitschko, Mike Tyson, Freddie Roach and others who honestly appreciate the sport and treat it with humility and respect.
There will always be a rivalry between the two sports, and as long as there is a separation between them, a little back-and-forth across the fence is fine, and in some ways good for business.
But when MMA fighters of high renown begin talking as if their sport isn’t challenging them enough and begin eyeing the professional boxing ring, we can only hope that they have someone in their camp to remind them that one cannot serve two masters.