Hi Guys and Girls, British boxer, Amir Khan, recently teased that he was about to embark on an MMA career. I’m all for “high” profile people deciding to ditch their current sport and take up MMA. It raises the profile of the sport which can only be good for its future.
However, since his twitter announcement, there have been dissenting voices amongst MMA fans. “Khan is gonna get smashed”, “he’s got a glass jaw”, “look at what happened to James Toney”, they say. So, let’s start with “Lights Out” Toney….
James was a highly talented boxer who became champion in three separate weight divisions. He has an outstanding record of 76 wins, 10 losses, 3 draws and 2 no contests. That equates to 83.5% of his boxing bouts resulting in wins and 60% of his wins were by knock out.
The biggest problem is that James started MMA at the age of 42. He also faced Randy Couture in his first fight. Randy may have been 47 at the time, but his background was in Greco Roman Wrestling, having trained to an Olympic level.
James was not prepared for that level of ability and was of course taken down in the first 15 seconds. The fight and Toney’s MMA career lasted just over 3 minutes longer. So, as James was 42 with a lot of mileage on the clock and obvious deficiencies in his grappling, I don’t feel that he is an accurate barometer on Amir’s ability to transition to MMA.
Fans of Khan will of course point to some examples of boxers doing well in MMA, probably playing the Holly Holm card. Holly is of course another talented multi time champion boxer who has transitioned to MMA. She has become successful too, the first women to beat Ronda Rousey in MMA and as a result becoming the Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
The problem with that comparison is that Holly is not an MMA novice. She trained with AKKA Karate USA from 2000 – 2007 and has since aligned herself with arguably the best coaches in MMA; Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn. Whilst Miesha Tate proved Holly’s grappling is not quite on the level of a standout grappler, Holly is a legitimate MMA fighter.
So, can a boxer transition from boxing to MMA? I believe the answer is yes. I personally don’t feel that boxing is the best base for an MMA fighter. In my opinion, that would go to wrestling or another grappling heavy sport, but nonetheless boxing is a base. I’ve said before that you cannot just have the one skill set in professional MMA. You will get destroyed and this isn’t the old days. Fighters are so well rounded now.
With regards to Amir though, the one thing he has going for him is that he is a promoter of the IFL MMA promotion in India. He undoubtedly knows that it’s not going to be easy.
The last elephant in the room is Khan’s “glass jaw”. All four of his losses have been KO’s and a lot of fans think he “doesn’t like to get hit”. Who does? But for a fighter, getting hit is an occupational hazard. If Khan has “lost his chin”, history has shown that most fighters never get it back.
Phil “CM Punk” Brooks has proved that this ain’t easy. It has taken him 2 years of extensive training before he is able to make his debut. The word on the street is that “Punk” has lost the majority of scrimmages he has been involved in. Granted Brooks doesn’t have a base discipline as such having come from the WWE, but the point stands.
At the age of 29 and a bit (his birthday is in December), will Khan have the dedication to learn the grappling side to a satisfactory level? Both ground and standing?
What are your thoughts on this? Can a professional boxer transition successfully to MMA? Will Amir Khan be the man to prove it or is he on a hiding to nothing?
Carpe Diem Guys