Earlier this week, surprising news came from the Japanese martial arts scene when it was revealed boxing legend Floyd Mayweather will be coming out of retirement later this year to take on kickboxing superstar Tenshin Nasukawa at RIZIN 14, the promotion’s annual New Year’s eve card. The two undefeated studs will fight each other under a set of rules that hasn’t been determined yet, but which is rumored to featuring boxing with modified MMA gloves on. Mayweather has been teasing a move to the martial arts world for years, but the news of him fighting for RIZIN came out of left field. It’s fair to wonder now if it’s the first step towards Mayweather actually competing in an MMA fight.
Mayweather has called out the likes of Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre in the present and past, but has never actually stepped foot into the cage. This fight against Nasukawa is going to take place in a ring more than likely since that’s what RIZIN uses, but it could be the first step for Mayweather to take before considering an MMA fight. At 41 years of age Mayweather obviously knows he has no chance to make it in MMA because he won’t be able to learn the grappling side of the game this late into his career, but he does have the confidence knowing his striking is amongst the best in the world as he proved against McGregor in their boxing match.
This fight between Mayweather and Nasukawa could give Mayweather the chance to see how he likes a modified striking ruleset, and it could also give a promotion like the UFC an example of what to expect should they have Mayweather compete in the Octagon. Booking Mayweather in an MMA fight against anyone doesn’t make sense, but perhaps the UFC would consider a modified striking bout against McGregor. Think a boxing match but with the four-ounce MMA gloves instead. That would be pretty interesting, right? Well it’s possible that’s what we’re going to see this New Year’s eve in RIZIN, and it could give the fans a glimpse of what we could eventually expect Mayweather to try out in the Octagon if the UFC wants to go that route. Or, it’s possible this Mayweather vs. Nasukawa bout is just a big joke and we’re all in on it. We really won’t know until RIZIN’s card later this year, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities.
In the past anytime I’ve heard the Mayweather in MMA rumors I pretty much ignored them as hogwash. Then last summer he fought McGregor in a boxing match, and that definitely was an eye-opener that maybe he was open to doing a little more. This bout against Nasukawa isn’t an MMA fight, from what we can gather right now, but it is a different fight than a straight boxing match. If Mayweather is open to fighting one of the top-ranked kickboxers in the world then perhaps he is willing to fight in the UFC. It will obviously depend on if Dana White and co. are interested in doing something other than just an MMA match, but perhaps this fight in RIZIN could set off a chain reaction to Mayweather and the UFC trying something in the future. Or maybe RIZIN loves him and they’ll try to keep putting him into these showcase superfight matchups. Whatever Mayweather does, you know it’s going to be a big attraction and generate a lot of money. It may not be MMA, but Mayweather joining RIZIN is definitely interesting to say the least, and the annual New Year’s eve card in Japan just got a whole lot more interesting.