By Leo Malchugina
Boxers James Toney, Shannon Briggs, Ricardo Mayorga and BJ Flores have all shown interest in Mixed Martial Arts, Toney signed with the UFC and got choked out by MMA legend Randy Couture in the first round and Mayorga was supposed to fight Din Thomas in his MMA debut but later pulled out. This made me wonder, which UFC fighters would make good boxers if they happened to focus 100 percent of their training on the sweet science?
I enjoy watching MMA and I’m not going to lie, I enjoy the striking aspects the most, but I respect the submissions and jiujitsu part of it. I don’t care for the ground and pound or hitting the guy when he is on his back and out cold, that part doesn’t impresses me at all, it takes a true sadist to enjoy those types of finishes, I just don’t enjoy seeing a defenseless person get pummeled when he is down and already unconscious.
As far as the stand up game is concerned, I think a few fighters could have been successful in boxing if they decided to focus mainly on that. I am only picking amongst current UFC fighters.
An obvious choice, the man is just fluid, he is very superior to many of the other fighters in the UFC when it comes to footwork, timing, reflexes, and boxing. What Legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach likes about Silva is his ability to judge distance and his patience. What I like about Silva are his calmness, footwork, and counter punching. Most fighters in the UFC are grapplers and just learning the stand up game. Because they focus so much on lifting heavy weights, they lose that fluidity to their punches and the traps and shoulders become stiff, preventing them from getting that snap on their punches. Most of the time they just throw loaded haymakers like Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson. Silva could have made an interesting fight with the declining Roy Jones Jr.; I would even favor Silva over the Roy Jones Jr. of today, especially if he had a few months to train under Freddie Roach.
Anderson Silva sparring at Freddie Roaches world famous Wild Card boxing club where Manny Pacquiao trains: WATCH VIDEO
Freddie Roach said BJ Penn easily has the best boxing in MMA, I agree. Penn is a typical Hawaiian who loves to scrap. His first love was boxing until a neighbor introduced him to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and he later went into MMA. Penn’s Jab is amazing, very precise, and powerful. A powerful jab is a great tool to have and very underused in MMA. Some fighters have a flicking jab that they use to set up power punches, but Penn has a crisp powerful jab and he hurts you every time he lands it. Penn proved that jabs are useful in Mixed Martial Arts; it’s his main tool in his stand up arsenal. Besides his jab, he has great timing, combinations, and focus, he makes sure all his punches count and have purpose to them. He has heavy hands, and he can take a punch too, BJ is known for having one of the best chins in MMA. If a younger BJ Penn focused on boxing instead of getting into MMA, I could definitely see him being a top 10 boxer at the 154-pound junior middleweight division.
BJ Penn compares himself to boxer Manny Pacquiao: WATCH VIDEO
BJ Penn hitting the mitts before UFC 107: WATCH VIDEO
This man is rare, his background is purely wrestling, but he is one of the few wrestlers who learned to box well. He can box and move quickly around the octagon. He is new to the boxing game, but you can see him progressing in every fight. Edgar reminds me of Zab Judah, because he moves in and out quickly and throws combos well. Edgar is very evasive he knows how to take advantage of being smaller than his opponents by being very slippery. Coincidentally Edgar defeated BJ Penn twice with his speedy in and out boxing style.
Frankie Edgar hitting the Mitts before UFC 98: WATCH VIDEO
The man is a genetic freak who can do it all. He has the best wrestling in the UFC yet he never wrestled before, he is strong, athletic, and very fast. He is like a sponge and absorbs styles quickly. His one weakness is his chin. I see St-Pierre being more of a smart boxer; he could win shut out decisions by out pointing you and getting out fast, like a Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Cory Spinks type fighter, but once you land flush on him like Matt Serra did it could be lights out. St-Pierre has experience sparring with world champion boxers an top level pros; Joachim Alcine, Jean Pascal, Lucian Bute, Librado Andrade, Mikkel Kessler. And he trains his boxing under legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach.
Georges St-Pierre says Mexican boxing legend Marco Antonio Barrera is his favorite boxer: WATCH VIDEO
GSP hitting the mitts with Freddie Roach: WATCH VIDEO
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Rampage Jackson was feared for his powerful slams when he fought in PRIDE, but in the UFC, he is feared for his powerful punches. Rampage doesn’t even bother to check kicks or use his wrestling anymore unless he has to sprawl a takedown. Rampage could be competitive in the heavyweight division, which is boxing’s weakest division right now. Rampage is so crazy he would take on Russian Giant Nikolai Valuev or the Klitschko brothers with only a year training if the price was right. I saw him knock out top-level K1 kick boxer Cyril Abidi without throwing any kicks and just throwing hands.
Watch Rampage Jackson vs. Cyril Abidi K1 kickboxing match: WATCH VIDEO
I remember watching Vitor Belfort take out Tank Abbott and Wanderlei Silva with his fast hands and thinking to myself this dude is unreal, no wonder they called him the Phenom. Vitor Belfort has some pro boxing bouts on his resume but nothing of note. He has fast hands, real power and good movement his only weakness is his mental focus, which is an important part of fighting, sometimes he’s off and sometimes he’s on, but when he is on he is deadly.
Video of Vitor Belforts Pro boxing debut: WATCH VIDEO
Junior Dos Santos
He has kick boxing fights but no professional boxing bouts under his belt, but this man loves to box, he trains with the Nogueira brothers, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. Dos Santos boxing is so feared he had Mirko Cro Cop doing the running man when they fought. His knockout wins over Fabricio Werdum, Gilbert Yvel, Stefan Struve, and Gabriel Gonzaga were all impressive, this man has a bright future I look forward to seeing him against UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Junior Dos Santos says Boxing is his life and enjoys Manny Pacquiao fights: WATCH VIDEO
Junior Dos Santos training for UFC 108 working on his boxing: WATCH VIDEO
Antônio Rogério Nogueira and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira
These Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brothers, actually started out as boxers first and later got into Jiu-Jitsu. They have a passion for boxing, both have sparred and trained with the Cuban national team and the smaller brother Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was a successful amateur boxer while competing in MMA, he was the 2006 and 2007 Brazilian Super Heavyweight Champion and won a bronze medal in the 2007 Pan American Games.
The Nogueira brothers teaching underprivileged kids in Brazil how to Box:
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