Ranking today’s top 6 MMA vs boxing matchups by increasing ridiculousness

Since the MMA vs. boxing discussions won't go away, read as BE turns into this skid with all your "favorite" matchups

By: Evan Zivin | 4 months ago
Ranking today’s top 6 MMA vs boxing matchups by increasing ridiculousness
Photo by IMAGO / Matt Davies PxImages

MMA vs boxing? It’s been 30 years since the first UFC event (RIP Jim Brown) and we still can’t resist discussing what might happen if athletes from different combat sports were to throw down with one another.

However, the tenor of the discussion has changed over the years. There’s little question anymore of what might happen if, say, a boxer and a grappler were to fight. That question was answered in 1993 when Royce Gracie sat on top of Art Jimmerson as Art tapped out with his ungloved hand.

That happened three decades ago. Since then, the sport has evolved from disparate styles to a singular form of fighting, one that the marketing arm of a large MMA promotion may even consider to be the “ultimate” form of fighting.

MMA vs Boxing

But the striking arts are still going strong. Boxing this year has delivered in both awe-inspiring and stomach-churning ways. 

That’s a big part of the reason why stories about boxers and MMA fighters going at it, either literally or figuratively, still get us excited and still get us talking, even if the mystery of what might happen doesn’t seem as mystifying as it once did.

Or maybe that “excitement” is being overstated and every major website is just saying it for the purpose of generating content…

Hey! Let’s talk about some of the big MMA vs. boxer matchups in the news right now and see if we can figure out why we refuse to stop talking about them!

6. Jon Jones vs. Tyson Fury

This is what started the recent wave of this nonsense. All it took was Fury taking offense at some comments Joe Rogan made, probably while high, about who would or wouldn’t make it out of a locked room between two combat sports icons.

It didn’t take long after that for Fury to respond on social media. Then Jones responded. Then Fury responded to Jones’ response. Then Jones responded to Fury’s response to Jones’ response. Then Dana White responded to Fury’s response to Jones’ response response. Then Fury responded. Then I died a little inside.

We all know it’s a dumb argument to have as far as who would beat who. We all know that, in a boxing fight, it’s Fury, and if it’s any environment where takedowns and eye pokes and kicks to the knee are allowed, it’s Jones. There’s little point in arguing it.

The only part of this that’s amusing is Dana, the man who says UFC *doesn’t* do gimmick fights and that he made Mayweather/McGregor happen, offering to make the fight happen IF Fury is willing to do it in the UFC. Yeah, I’m sure the man who made $25 million for his last fight wants a contract with the company that shares 13% of its revenue with the fighters.

Hey Jon and Dana: How about, instead of trying to make a fight happen that we know isn’t happening, you go and get the fight with Stipe Miocic done? Can you do that? Sergei Pavlovich may not be willing to wait forever.

5. Conor McGregor vs. Canelo Alvarez

While we’re still waiting for official word that Conor is back in the USADA pool and that the Michael Chandler fight is actually going to happen, Conor has been busy in the boxing realm, going from Ryan Garcia’s dressing room after his loss to Gervonta Davis to ringside with Katie Taylor after her loss to Chantelle Cameron.

It was during a press event for Taylor’s fight that Conor said he’d fight Canelo “no problem.” Canelo, when asked for a response, said he could beat Conor “with one hand.” Conor then upped the ante by saying he could beat Canelo “with no hands.”

I have no idea how that would work but, if Conor throws in a broken ankle, I think we’ve got a deal.

4. Crawford/Spence vs. Poirier/Gaethje

This isn’t a battle of fighters but a battle of fights. Still, pretty awesome that, while we may not be getting a unified title fight at heavyweight (yet), we’re going to get one at welterweight between WBO Champion Terence Crawford and WBA, IBF, and WBC champion Errol Spence, Jr. The two have been circling each other for a while, with a November 2022 date falling through before it was announced the fight could happen on either June 17 or July 22. The fight has since been confirmed for going down on July 29.

That’s great. Only problem for some is that July 29 is also the date of UFC 291, the show being headlined by the BMF title fight between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

I know UFC had the date first but this really creates a dilemma. How are fans supposed to spend their evening/money? Watching two of the Pound-for-pound best boxers in the world slug it out for divisional supremacy? Or watching two former interim champions crash into one another for the right to wear an expletive-laden paperweight?

Maybe we should be like Dana. Just attend one live but bring a TV to watch the other. Problem solved.

3. Francis Ngannou vs. Any ranked heavyweight

I know, I know. We’ve harped enough on Francis and his PFL deal. I’ve plonked out more than my fair share of words on the subject but I just wanted to reiterate something: the idea that Francis thinks he could get a fight with a top name like Fury or Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua is INSANE.

The athletic commissions are certainly not above making questionable decisions but it would seem pretty egregious on their part to sanction a pro boxing match between Ngannou, who has zero pro boxing experience, and any top ranked heavyweight. Probably anyone in the Top 15 would be a stretch.

Unless he’s willing to fight someone with a lesser name, like a Derek Chisora (who’d still be heavily favored to win), Francis’ boxing career is likely to stall out before it even gets started. 

Maybe he should be looking to do an exhibition. Commissions will let you do anything if you call it an exhibition. Just ask Floyd Mayweather.

2. Nate Diaz vs. Jake Paul

I just wanted to touch on this to mention that 1) This fight is actually happening and 2) It, as of this writing, is still happening. Not that I’m suggesting or hoping that something happens to cause the fight to fall apart but August is still a long way away.

Oh, did you hear that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the commission overseeing the fight, said they plan to drug test Nate for marijuana? And they still have a pretty strict THC threshold compared to other states?

Keep your fingers crossed.

1. Mark Coleman vs. All Celebrities

Seriously, what the hell is The Hammer doing? A “Celebrity” Boxing fight in October? He tried to get a slap fight with Tim Sylvia and now he’s pivoting to this? Who’s he going to fight? Patrick Stewart?

I’d suggest they make the Sylvia fight happen in a boxing ring but he doesn’t have a good track record against boxers.

Man, this sport is wild. Let’s just hope none of this is giving James Toney any ideas.

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About the author
Evan Zivin
Evan Zivin

Evan Zivin is a writer, having joined Bloody Elbow in 2023. He's been providing his unique takes on the sport of MMA since 2013, previously working as a featured columnist for 411Mania. Evan has followed MMA and professional wrestling for most of his life. His joy is in finding the stories and characters within all combat sports and presenting them in a serious yet light-hearted way.

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