Deontay Wilder to MMA? ‘Bronze Bomber’ says he’d ‘be a dangerous man’ in the UFC

Former boxing champion Deontay Wilder says he wants to try his hand at MMA, maybe in the UFC, before he retires from combat sports altogether.

By: Nate Wilcox | 4 weeks ago
Deontay Wilder to MMA? ‘Bronze Bomber’ says he’d ‘be a dangerous man’ in the UFC
Deontay Wilder is talking about trying MMA. | Joe Camporeale / USA TODAY Network, IMAGO

Deontay Wilder hoped to fight Francis Ngannou before Tyson Fury

There was a time when Deontay Wilder was one of the front-runners to fight Francis Ngannou. As the Predator sought an opponent for his first boxing bout, the Bronze Bomber emerged as a potential option.

Unfortunately for Wilder, an even bigger name jumped his place in line and took what looked to be an easy payday against the boxing novice. I’m referring to lineal boxing heavyweight champ Tyson Fury who stepped in to fight the ex-UFC champ in Saudi Arabia in October.

And certainly, no one really expected the bout to be as competitive as it was, coming down to a single judge’s card after Ngannou shocked the world by knocking Fury down in the third round and hurting him again in the eighth.

“People don’t know that me and Francis were really supposed to fight first,” said Wilder during an interview with Blue Blood Sports TV. “Certain things came up — all I can say is it was business. That fight took place, which is cool because Francis made a name for himself.”

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 26: Francis Ngannou at the Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou open workout on September 26, 2023, at Ngannou™s private gym in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Amy Kaplan Icon Sportswire) BOXING: SEP 26 Francis Ngannou Workout EDITORIAL USE ONLY Icon2309262586
Who’s next for Francis Ngannou in boxing? | Amy Kaplan, Icon Sportswire, IMAGO

Wilder wants to be a two-sport champion in boxing and MMA

Wilder enjoyed a long run as the WBC boxing champ before dropping a pair of bouts to Tyson Fury by TKO and KO and now that he’s not champ it’s not quite as easy to stay as busy as he’d like. There’s talk of a bout with Anthony Joshua but nothing has been signed.

In the meantime, Wilder is hatching some crossover plans of his own.

“I’m thinking about doing both, UFC and boxing,” said Wilder. “To keep the activity alive and keep it going. I’ll be a dangerous man in the UFC, bro. With those four-ounce gloves? I broke the f—king hitting bag machine with those four-ounce gloves on.

“That was some real stuff,” continued Wilder. “I could see myself in [the UFC]. I think I want to tie it to the competitive side of me, wanting to do both. Get in there and just show the ability and talent of what I could do. I don’t think there’s nothing cooler than being a champion in both [sports]. Have the titles at the same time, too.” 

Related: Ngannou says Wilder is ‘really serious’ about cross-over fight, has been training MMA for months.

What would Wilder‘s chances in the UFC be?

While boxing is one of the keystone skill sets in mixed martial arts, pure boxers have a less-than-storied history in the Octagon. From Art Jimmerson who went into UFC 1 expecting to coast to an easy victory only to be the first man to tap out in the cage to one-time lineal boxing middleweight champ James Toney who got shamed by Randy Couture’s single-leg takedown at UFC 118 in 2010, practitioners of the sweet science have been anything but feared by their MMA foes.

On the other hand, 48-year-old Ray Mercer shocked former UFC champ Tim Sylvia with a 2009 7-second KO win in 2009. Of course, that followed his embarrassing guillotine submission loss to Kimbo Slice in his MMA debut.

At age 38, Wilder would likely be following in the footsteps of his famous boxing predecessors who tried their hand at MMA. On the other hand, heavyweight is a notoriously weak division and maybe Wilder can find an opponent who will try to stand and bang with the Bronze Bomber.

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News May 25, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports unveiled a statute of former heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder outside their offices on Jack Warner Parkway Wednesday. The statue was created by Tuscaloosa-based artist, Caleb O™Connor. Wilder stands beside the statue for photos to be taken. Tuscaloosa AL , EDITORIAL USE ONLY PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY 18353090
A bronze statue of the Bronze Bomber. | Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY Network, IMAGO

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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