How many times since the Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather Jr. saga began have we heard somebody use the unimaginative yet admittedly accurate phrase, ‘MMA and boxing are two completely different sports’?
Many, many times, right?
Occasionally somebody goes a little deeper and makes the point that even though boxing is a part of MMA, it’s a completely different style of boxing than one sees in the prize ring. Another fair but perhaps tired point.
What is rarely given though, even when those speaking are experts in one sport or the other, is real insight as to why exactly the boxing styles are different, in what ways, and the necessary adaptions that a fighter making the transition one way or the other might have to make to be successful.
Perhaps that’s because so few people have actually tried to make these transitions and been forced to learn what does or doesn’t work in one environment versus another.
One person who did jump codes, however, is Holly Holm. Once the pound for pound queen of women’s boxing, Holm made her professional MMA debut in 2011. She jumped back and forth between the two sports until mid-2013, when she decided to commit herself wholeheartedly to mixed combat. She debuted in the UFC in 2015 and went on to claim the women’s bantamweight title with a shocking knockout win over Ronda Rousey later that year. She has since lost the title but remains a top contender despite recent tribulations.
Having made the transition, albeit in the opposite direction of McGregor, and been successful, Holm is a valuable source of insight ahead of August 26th and the Irishman’s clash with the great defensive master.
Speaking to MMAFighting scribe Dave Doyle recently, Holm gave McGregor some chance of upsetting the odds in Las Vegas, adding that she feels ‘The Notorious’ UFC lightweight champion is actually attempting the less complex transition.
“Mayweather is undefeated for a reason,” said ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’. “But still, I feel anything can happen in a fight and Conor’s got speed which, I think, Mayweather, a lot of people can’t handle Mayweather’s speed. I think Conor has speed and he can deal with speed pretty well. I think Conor’s fighting style and stance can actually be competitive for Mayweather.”
“I think one of the biggest things for me going from boxing to MMA that was hard was being close in the clinch, because in boxing I could get comfortable in there. You could cover up and throw uppercuts and hooks and call it phone booth fighting and when I first got into MMA, sometimes I’d want to stand in there and throw uppercuts and then all of a sudden they’ve got me in the clinch. Or, I’m trying to box and somebody would go for a takedown.”
“So one of the biggest habits I had to break going into MMA was letting go of that inside boxing style, which I didn’t do all the time but I was comfortable there in the fight and I feel like, going from MMA to boxing, is, I don’t want to say an easier transition, but I just feel like, there aren’t a lot of habits you’d have to break.”
Those who give McGregor a chance, tend do so based on the power in his left hand and the fact that he is likely to bring an unorthodox style which has the potential to flummox Mayweather. However, most suggest that the longer the fight wears on the less likely the Dubliner is to pull off the upset. This is partly due to the fact that there are lingering doubts about the SBG Ireland fighter’s gas tank stemming from his first contest with Nate Diaz and because Mayweather is brilliant at adapting to what’s in front of him as a fight goes on.
Holm is no different.
“If McGregor wins, its going to be earlier,” said the 35-year-old. “If it goes longer, it’s going to be Floyd Mayweather. Anything can happen in a fight. I don’t think it’s a disgrace. I think if anyone’s out there making fun of this fight, I can guarantee you that those are the people who don’t fight.”
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