While it may have been a rare occurrence a number of years ago, nowadays, the idea of MMA stars crossing over to the boxing ring is hardly unheard of. From Anderson Silva and Tito Ortiz to Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley, a host of stars have stepped through the ropes, not to mention Frank Mir’s venture into a…triangle?
While those names are perhaps small fry in the modern landscape of the sport, two destructive UFC champions have recently had their sights set on the squared circle: Usman and heavyweight king Francis Ngannou.
“The Nigerian Nightmare,” the UFC’s #1-ranked pound-for-pound star, has trained his aim on Canelo Álvarez, boxing’s P4P head. Meanwhile, “The Predator” has frequently expressed his desire to throw down with WBC and The Ring Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury throughout his ongoing contractual dispute with the MMA leader.
Now, Usman and Ngannou’s promotional boss has essentially asked, ‘What are you doing guys?’
During a recent interview with MMA Underground’s John Morgan, White praised Usman’s accomplishments, branding him the best-ever at 170 pounds. However, he reiterated that the 34-year-old has no business inside the ring with Canelo, a sentiment he repeated with regards to Ngannou’s own boxing ambitions.
“He’s (Usman) the best. He’s the greatest welterweight of all time. He’s the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. He’s good, (but) stay away from Canelo,” said White. “This whole boxing thing, you know, with these guys—Tyson Fury’s one of the best heavyweights of all time. The best heavyweights in the world can’t stand with this guy and fight him. Canelo Álvarez, I think he’s pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world in boxing. Nobody can beat him in boxing. Stop guys, stop.”
White: Nobody’s Knocking Any Doors Down To See These Fights
The match that arguably started the current ‘crossover fever’ saw then-double UFC champion Conor McGregor share the ring with undefeated boxing great Floyd Mayweather.
Their clash, dubbed “The Money Fight” and “The Biggest Fight In Combat Sports History,” attracted major attention and grossed a remarkable $938 million, sitting in second on the all-time list behind only Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao’s 2015 match, as well as drawing 4.3 million pay-per-view buys.
When Morgan asked White if he feels somewhat responsible for the current situation given his promotional involvement in that fight, the UFC chief admitted that the 2017 showdown started the ongoing trend.
However, he insisted the matchups that Ngannou and Usman are pushing for pale in comparison to the interest that existed prior to McGregor and Mayweather’s scrap. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that White won’t be getting involved in any more crossover bouts moving forward.
“There’s no doubt about it, that it did (open the door to crossover bouts). But they’re totally different,” said White. “What you have to understand is when that fight happened, everybody was going f*cking crazy over that fight. Everywhere I went, that’s all people talked about. The media, the fans, everybody wanted to see it. Nobody’s knocking any doors down to any of these fights.
“I get it, these guys all wanna get out there and try it and do it, but it’s not even remotely close to being the same,” White insisted.
Do you agree with Dana White’s take on Kamaru Usman and Francis Ngannou’s crossover ambitions?