There has been a newfound market for fight fans around the world that are keen to see cross-sport bouts between athletes that have excelled in the octagon and the boxing ring clash.
The bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor whetted the appetite when they clashed in August 2017, and there have been rumours swirling that there could be more MMA stars that are targeting a fight in the boxing ring next year.
Nevertheless, which stars could we see step up to the challenge next year?
Cris CyborgWomen’s boxing has been at the forefront this year, as two million viewers tuned in to watch the recent Katie Taylor title defence against Miriam Gutierrez. However, it has been reported that the Irish WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO champion could be set to face off against his most daunting opponent next year.
According to Eddie Hearn and Bellator officials, negotiations regarding a mega-fight between Cyborg and Taylor have been discussed at length throughout the second half of this year.
There remains sticking points in the deal, as Bellator are keen to get Taylor in an MMA fight against Cyborg after a boxing match, but Taylor’s team aren’t interested in that term.
However, it would certainly be a fight that would generate interest across the world, as Taylor is the biggest star in women’s boxing, and Cyborg is one of the most dangerous women in MMA.
Conor McGregorConor McGregor’s retirement didn’t last long, as just months after he officially revealed that he was done with the UFC, he was announced to be returning in the new year with a bout against Dustin Poirier.
However, this could be one of the last times that fight fans see McGregor in the octagon, as he has constantly claimed that he is building to a fight against Manny Pacquiao.
It would be a second dip into the world of boxing for the Irishman, and it could be argued that this could be the last time that we see McGregor in any combat action. Pacquiao remains at the top of his game, and has lost just seven of his 71 professional fights.
Pacquiao became the oldest fighter to win the WBA welterweight title when he beat Keith Thurman in July last year, and his evolution as a boxer is staggering. McGregor’s challenge in this fight will be completely different from the bout against Mayweather, but there is no doubt that it will be a huge hit at the box office.
Jorge MasvidalThere is no question that if there was one UFC star that is perfectly suited to step up to a challenge in the boxing ring, then it would be Jorge Masvidal. He is regarded as one of the best natural boxers signed to the UFC, and he has made a habit out of calling out some of the biggest names in boxing over the past couple of years.
Masvidal to fight as a professional boxer on one occasion, but that was 15 years ago as he beat Joseph Benjamin by majority decision in Miami, which means a step up to face one of the names that he has been calling out may be a bridge too far.
He did attempt to generate interest in a fight with Mayweather first, but recently he has instead targeted Canelo Alvarez. The size of that challenge would be massive, given that Alvarez is considered by most as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. However, there is no doubt that a fight between Masvidal and Alvarez would be a huge event for both fighters.
Here you have 3 MMA stars that might switch sports soon. And if you love MMA as much as we do, click here to find the best odds: