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Tyson Fury to MMA? Heavyweight boxing star teases potential debut this year

Could Tyson Fury become a crossover combat sports star? The champion boxer is looking to give MMA a try, with Conor McGregor’s training guidance.

Cincinnati Bengals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

MMA has had its fair share of crossover superstars. We’ve seen kick boxers like Tenshin Nasukawa and Rico Verhoeven give mixed martial arts a try. Pro wrestlers like Brock Lesnar and and Dave Bautista have stepped into the cage, and obviously a wealth of grapplers—both from collegiate wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. But, boxing has been a more rarefied air. In part, for elite pro boxers, the money is just too good to consider dabbling in MMA. And for those few that have tried, like James Toney and Ricardo Mayorga, the attempt has been humiliating and ugly.

In large part that’s likely because the boxers who have been interested have been so far past their competitive prime that the realities of any athletic competition may have been poor. Or maybe it’s just that the deep devotion to a punching-only style of fighting for years on end doesn’t lend itself to an easy transition to wrestling and grappling. At just 31-years-old, however, unbeaten heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury may help test those theories.

The ‘Gypsy King’ made a surprising announcement during a recent interview with Sky Sports News. That, under the guidance and training of UFC superstar Conor McGregor, he’s looking to step into the cage sometime before the end of 2019.

“I’ve got something epic coming up, after this. Even more bigger than this,” Fury told the news outlet, referencing his upcoming WWE Crown Jewel match against Braun Strowman, on October 31st, in Saudi Arabia.

“Yeah, we might see Tyson Fury have his MMA debut this year too,” Fury went on to reveal.

“It’s different,” he acknowledged, “but like I say, ‘Tyson Fury, taking over.’”

“Yeah, I’ve been speaking to Conor [McGregor] about it, and he’s willing to train me. And it’s gonna be good.”

“Yeah, but I come from a long line of bare knuckle boxing champions,” Fury explained, when asked about having the mindset for MMA training. “Getting hurt, getting bloody – you saw my last fight, blood everywhere – nothing new to me. All a part of my heritage and upbringing. So, I’d love to get in there and smash someone up.”

Fury said he’s had a standing offer from the former UFC ‘double-champ’ to come to Dublin and work on his MMA game. The UFC and McGregor both recently teased a return to action for the Irishman, who has been embroiled in a number of controversies over his last year away from the sport—including two separate accusations of sexual assault and accusations that he and his entourage forced a bottle service girl into the back of a car outside an LA night club.

“He just said, any time you’re ready, when you get the time, let’s go. Come over to Dublin, and we’ll start training. So, can’t wait! Gonna take him up on the offer,” Fury enthused.

“Who knows, who knows? We might be on a double header. The ‘Gypsy King’ and Conor McGregor. It even rhymes, doesn’t it? Double header, Gypsy King and Conor McGregor! Wooo!”

If Fury did come knocking for a UFC contract, would the world’s largest MMA promotion be willing to foot the bill? Fury’s getting a reported $15 million for his upcoming WWE appearance. It remains to be seen if he’d be willing to take a major pay cut to compete in MMA, or if the UFC would open up their pocketbooks for a potential massive one-off PPV smash.