Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor may not have invented the crossover fight, but they certainly popularized the genre.
An athletic contest wrapped within a larger spectacle, the crossover fight pre-dates mixed martial arts altogether, essentially dating back to the famous Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fight in 1976.
It’s an intriguing concept, pitting fighters from different combat sports against each other to prove dominance of a certain discipline, and 43 years removed from Ali vs. Inoki it’s quite possible that combat sports are heading towards a new era of crossover fights, as UFC BMF champion Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is campaigning for a fight against four-division boxing champ Canelo Alvarez, and UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic has gone on record to court a potential showdown with lineal boxing heavyweight champ Tyson Fury.
Did We Learn Nothing from Mayweather McGregor?
No doubt, there’s intrigue and interest when it comes to these crossover fights. Mayweather and McGregor managed to break basically every single record in the combat sports game (save the gate record, which still belongs to Mayweather-Pacquiao), parading around the world, trash talking, and eventually going 10 rounds.
It was a fun experiment in learning just how far the audience would follow the biggest stars in MMA and boxing, but in the end, MayMac was quite a detriment to mixed martial arts, as McGregor, then a two division “champ champ,” held up multiple weight classes in the UFC while pursuing the most lucrative purse in the history of combat sports.
For his part, Mayweather didn’t really do any damage to the contemporary landscape of boxing, despite many purists saying that the fight was a complete disgrace, but it becomes a bit difficult to imagine how MMA and boxing will proceed if many of their most well regarded champions are sidetracked by crossover bouts with fighters from different sports.
“Gamebred” Pushing the BMF Boundaries
These days, it seems like no one has more options than Jorge Masvidal.
After defeating Nate Diaz at UFC 244 to win the BMF title, “Gamebred” has moved into rare territory where he has the opportunity to pick a number of big fights, whether it be a rematch with Diaz, a fight with Nate’s older brother Nick, a bout against Conor McGregor, or a welterweight title shot against the winner of the upcoming UFC 245 main event between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington.
Still, Masvidal insists on pushing the narrative that he covets a boxing match against WBO light heavyweight champion Canelo. And this is no media bluster. He really wants the fight.
Honestly, it’s a bit ridiculous to imagine Masvidal intentionally sidetracking his burgeoning MMA career to step into the ring against one of the best boxers in the world, but he is “Gamebred,” and he comes from a boxing background. Also, Masvidal has insisted that the most important factor in determining his next fight will be the purse, and no one can draw bigger numbers than Canelo. Not even Nick Diaz.
Additionally, given the history between UFC president Dana White and Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo’s promoter, it’s unlikely that there would ever be any cooperation to make an Alvarez vs. Masvidal fight. But after Mayweather vs. McGregor, basically all bets are off.
A Heavyweight Double Header?
As if a Canelo vs. Masvidal boxing match wouldn’t be crazy enough, there’s an even wilder scenario building in the heavyweight division, where UFC champion Stipe Miocic, a former Golden Gloves boxer, is attempting to set up a bout against lineal heavyweight boxing champ Tyson Fury.
The idea of Miocic crossing over to boxing isn’t actually that strange, as boxing is a regular part of his MMA training. However, Fury, who still has three fights left on his current boxing contract, has not only taken the bait, but has upped the ante, going on record to state that he would even entertain the idea of stepping in the Octagon to fight Miocic in the UFC. To prove his commitment to the idea, Fury has even begun some MMA training with UFC fighter Darren Till, who recently won his middleweight debut at UFC 244.
Summing it Up
Honestly, all of this crossover talk is a bit much, when Masvidal, Canelo, Miocic, and Fury all have legitimate fights within their own sports, but the constant hypothesizing does make for fun conversation, and the occasional argument.
Sure, it would be interesting to see Stipe Miocic strap on the boxing gloves and challenge Tyson Fury in the ring. And yes, it would be fun to see Jorge Masvidal, the baddest motherf*cker in the UFC, bring his Miami street brawling style into a boxing match against Canelo Alvarez. But when you think of all the possibilities, the Miocic trilogy versus Daniel Cormier and the Fury rematch against Deontay Wilder make way more sense, as do the bevvy of challengers currently lining up to face Canelo and Masvidal.