For Tyson Fury, becoming the lineal heavyweight champion of the world in boxing is not enough. Defending the titles against the previously dominant champion in Wladimir Klitschko or unifying his belts against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will get him closer to the ultimate goal, but that won’t settle it either.
The brash Manchester native is out to prove himself the best combat fighter on the planet, and that goes beyond competing inside of the squared circle.
In order to do this, Fury says he needs to step into a fight with mixed martial arts’ top heavyweight champion. According to boxing’s newly crowned heavyweight king, he’s already had discussions with one of the top promoters in MMA about allowing him to prove his dominance.
“Me and [Bellator President] Scott Coker have had many conversations in the past about coming to Bellator and fighting. I’m now the heavyweight champion of the world in boxing, and I’d like to unify and switch,” Fury said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I’d like to fight the UFC heavyweight champion. I’ve been calling Cain Velasquez out for two years and then he got beaten so it showed you what I said was about right.”
According to Coker, the promotion would be a lot closer to hosting Fury had he not earned a unanimous decision over Klitschko in Dusseldorf, Germany last month.
“If he didn’t win the title, we would be doing something with him,” Coker said to Sherdog. “I think it’d be a lot of fun to let him test his skills against some of our guys.
“Maybe he could fight Fedor. Maybe fights Bobby Lashley. Maybe he fights Cheick Kongo. We have a lot of guys that could fight him.”
But competing in mixed martial arts isn’t as simple as acknowledging incoming takedown attempts or kicks aimed at one’s head. Some of the best fighters on the planet have had at least a decade of training in at least one, if not several, of the facets relatively free combat offers in MMA.
In all his wild remarks, Fury knows this. He knows he can’t just step into the cage with somebody like UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum and expect to win a fight under the unified rules of MMA. Even a lower-ranked heavyweight like Jared Rosholt would be wise to have a grapple-heavy gameplan against an undefeated boxer like Fury.
That’s why, ideally, his potential crossover wouldn’t offer as free-form of combat as you often see in mixed martial arts.
Fury said to Ariel Helwani:
“I’m not just talking about MMA or kickboxing. I’m talking about everything, because obviously an MMA fighter can’t box with a boxer and a boxer can’t wrestle up and down the floor with an MMA fighter. It’s not going to work. But if we can meet in the middle, find a middle ground, then I’d fight any one of them guys. No problem at all.
“I’m not interested in a 100 percent MMA fight because obviously they’re not going to stand up and bang with the heavyweight champion of the world, are they? They’re just going to take me to the floor and that’s not really my forte. My forte is action-packed fighting, whether it’s stand-up, kick, punch. Everything goes, or something like that.”
Logically, meeting in the middle offers something more along the lines of professional kickboxing — a martial art that would likely still favor somebody more seasoned in MMA than it would a traditional boxer in Fury. But for the right money, Fury says he’ll step into the cage with these hybrid rules without so much as a concern.