According to legendary heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, he could have easily made his mark in mixed martial arts instead of boxing.
Apparently, it all depended on what combat sport his trainer was doing.
During an interview with ESPN, the former undisputed world champion spoke about a variety of his current projects, including the first "Mike Tyson Cares Foundation" event, his one-man show tour and recent film appearances. Eventually, the conversation turned to the UFC, where Tyson gave some interesting speculation about an alternate career path:
ESPN: These days, with UFC being so popular, boxing isn't necessarily getting the best fighters. If you were an 18-year-old kid now, would you still be a boxer?
Tyson: That'd all depend on my trainer. When I came up, my trainer was a boxing guy. If my guy was in UFC, I'd probably go that way.
Over the years, Tyson has become a notable guest at UFC events and personal friend to Dana White. Despite being retired for over seven years, he's remained a very public figure in the combat sports world and is widely recognized as one of the UFC's biggest supporters.
Tyson further added that he would've loved to get into the Octagon, and now that the UFC has become so widespread and successful, you're "not cool" if you're not a fan:
ESPN: You're into MMA, right?
Tyson: Oh yeah, I love UFC, big time. How could you not be? They play UFC so much, you see it year round, and you just have to want to be a fan. If you're not a fan, you’re not cool.ESPN: You sound like someone who wants to get in the [Octagon].
Tyson: Yeah. I would love to do that stuff.
Although most athletic commissions likely wouldn't license Tyson for a professional (or exhibition) MMA match, the 46-year-old boxing icon would certainly be one of the sport's oldest prospects in history if he indeed decided to give it a try.
Tyson's own career also predates the inaugural UFC event by quite a bit—Tyson's first professional boxing match took place in March 1985.
By the time "UFC 1: The Beginning" was held at Denver's McNichols Sports Arena in November 1993, Tyson was in the middle of serving a three-year prison sentence following his infamous rape conviction on February 10, 1992.
Hypothetically, the earliest that Tyson could have competed in a UFC event (with time to train) would have been "UFC 6: Clash of the Titans" in July 1995—little more than three short months after the end of his incarceration.