Floyd Mayweather says he's starting MMA training with UFC champ Tyron Woodley
Despite the words of the five-time boxing champion, there remains plenty of reason to be skeptical
It appears the only one willing to take seriously the rumors that Floyd Mayweather is entertaining a move to mixed martial arts is the former five-division boxing champion himself. Mayweather (50-0, 27 knockouts), who returned from a two-year retirement last August to finish UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor in their pay-per-view boxing superfight, continues to fuel the narrative that a move to the octagon is in the works.
The 41-year-old former pound-for-pound king spoke with TMZ Sports late Wednesday in Los Angeles and confirmed that recent comments from UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley that the two were set to begin training were true.
"I'm going to start soon, we have been texting back and forth," Mayweather said. "We talked a couple times and we are going to start working out real soon."
Considering Mayweather's age, lack of MMA experience and his history of "high reward, low risk" matchmaking once he became a PPV star, there are countless reasons to believe this is nothing more than talk. But not only has UFC president Dana White, Mayweather continues to give interviews with a straight face.
Asked how he would deal with the kicking aspect of the sport, Mayweather say it would be difficult to adjust but that "it is what it is." He also estimated he would need 6-8 months of training to prepare correctly.
One thing Mayweather doesn't seem worried about is the prospect of fighting on the ground.
"It doesn't matter, I can wrestle. My wrestling game is not that bad," Mayweather said. "On a scale from 1-10, I would say it's probably a seven and we can get it up to like a nine, if possible. Of course my hand game, on a scale from 1-10, is 100. The kicking game on a scale from 1-10 is probably a four, so we will have to tweak a few things to take things to that next level.
"I can't overlook or knock any MMA guy. Tyron is an unbelievable fighter and a tough competitor. Conor McGregor, he's a tough competitor and a hell of a fighter. There are a lot of tough, rugged guys out there in MMA and I can't overlook those guys."
There has been some speculation of late that if Mayweather actually was serious about crossing over to UFC that it might come against a more limited and celebrity opponent. One example might be former WWE star Phil "CM Punk" Brooks, who badly lost his UFC debut in 2016 and appears headed to a return June 9 at UFC 225 in his native Chicago. There was just as much rumor that maybe a mixed rules match of some form, outlawing specific elements of MMA, might be more in order.
Mayweather was asked directly by TMZ whether his plan is to seek a rematch against McGregor, only this time in the octagon, which in theory would be a no-win situation.
"I was thinking, me and myself, I really don't know," Mayweather said. "We can't say, that's why I pause because I can't really say. I have to talk with my team, speak with my father and see how it's going to play out. ... I haven't even started training yet."
But is there a certain amount of money that could speed up Mayweather's timeline and get him into the cage any quicker?
"We already know it's all about presenting the right numbers and, of course, [UFC] is going to present the right numbers and we are going to make it happen," he said.
If you remain skeptical despite Mayweather's words, you have every reason to. Let's not forget it took him over five years to face Manny Pacquiao during a time that the two boxers were considered, unquestionably, to be the best in the game.
If there's one thing Mayweather has proven, it's that he's the best businessman the fight game has ever seen. Inherent in that is an ability to avoid unnecessary risk by only accepting offers that provide him the necessary advantages in the categories that matter most.
Unless he truly does plan on entering the octagon in some form of modified match against someone the caliber of Punk, there is simply no logic to support Mayweather, who made upwards of over $600 million from his last three fights combined, has any reason to set himself up to fail this spectacularly.
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