There has been a common trend in the UFC over the past decade of fighters switching to other combat sports. The typical transition has been to the world of boxing.
Some former octagon stars have forged a regular career in the sport, and others have fought in one-off bouts.
A UFC convert is set to feature in one of the highest-profile boxing fights of this year, and another huge figure of the past also fought in a massive crossover event between the two combat sports.
Francis Ngannou is the latest legendary UFC star to make the bold switch to boxing. He will face a tougher task than anybody who has moved over from mixed martial arts before as he faces Tyson Fury.Fury is undoubtedly the leading heavyweight boxer on the planet, and many would argue he is the greatest throughout history. In Tyson Fury v Francis Ngannou betting, the former is unsurprisingly an overwhelming favourite at odds of 1/12 to win.
Ngannou is set to face an almost impossible task in his boxing debut, although his UFC career featured many underdog triumphs. Stipe Miocic was once seen as a comfortable favourite against the French-Cameroonian fighter, but Ngannou upset the odds to become a world champion for the first time.
The switch from MMA to boxing is typically not a very successful one for most fighters. However, Ngannou could perhaps force a change in that pattern. He did initially train in boxing before joining the UFC, and his greatest strength comes from his fists.
The challenge of Fury will surely be too much for Ngannou as it should take him some time to adapt to fighting in the ring. If he sticks to his rediscovered craft and organises fights against weaker opponents in the future, then he could well have a long-term future in the sport.
Conor McGregor made a legendary name for himself during his time in the UFC. He was the first-ever fighter to hold world championship titles in two different weight divisions.
In his entire time on the promotion, he has fought 28 times, of which he was the victor on 22 occasions. He was a regular feature on the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view events – his biggest nights came in his rematch victory over Nate Diaz and his 13-second victory over Jose Aldo.
Despite long-term success in the MMA world, the Irishman made a brief switch to boxing in 2017. He organised a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr, in what was termed the ‘biggest fight in combat sports history’.
The pair were some of the most popular stars in their respective sports’ all-time history and also had the backing of massive successes throughout their careers.
McGregor went on to lose by technical knockout, and he never returned to the ring again. But that night remains the biggest ever in which a boxing star and a UFC great have faced off in the ring.
Ngannou’s bout against Fury will perhaps struggle to live up to the hype that McGregor’s fight with Mayweather created. After all, the fight will also likely not even be the Gypsy King’s biggest of the year -he will likely face Oleksandr Usyk this December.
Ultimately, these two are without doubt the most significant and most successful UFC pair to have made the switch to boxing during their careers. For the Irishman, his boxing stint was brief and unsuccessful, but Ngannou has immense striking power that suggests his fate could be much different.