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The Two Biggest Crossover Fights in UFC History

The Two Biggest Crossover Fights in UFC History

June 21, 2023
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On April 12th, it was announced that UFC icon Nate Diaz will finally face off against YouTube sensation Jake Paul in a boxing matchup. The bout will take place on August 5th from Dallas’ American Airlines Center, and its a matchup that fans have been anticipating for some time. In fact, the fight against The Problem Child is the reason why Diaz didn’t renew his contract with the planet’s number one mixed martial arts organization.

The Stockton, California native knew that there was a bucket load of cash on the table for a fight with the younger Paul brother, who is coming off his first-ever professional defeat at the hands of Tommy Fury, younger brother of WBC World Heavyweight Champion Tyson.

Rather than fighting a murderer’s row of opponents in the UFC’s welterweight division, which he has done for the better part of two decades, such as the likes of Khamzat Chimaev and Conor McGregor, Diaz decided to take the money fight. And let’s face it, who can blame him? The latest UFC betting odds made Stockton’s favorite son a +120 underdog for his final Octagon battle against fellow veteran, Tony Ferguson, last September. Diaz made the bookmakers eat their words and picked up a fourth-round submission victory. He will have to do the same in his upcoming bout against Paul, as the oddsmakers have made the younger fighter the early betting favorite.

It isn’t just Nate Diaz who may crossover into the world of professional boxing. The word coming through the grapevine is that former UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou could well square off against the aforementioned Tyson Fury or The Gypsy King’s former foe, Deontay Wilder.

And with the UFC recently merging with WWE to create the biggest sports entertainment brands the planet has ever seen, the crossovers may not end there. So with that being said, we decided that now would be the perfect time to take a look at the biggest UFC crossover bouts in history.

Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor

Is there really anywhere to start other than with the Money Fight? On August 26th, 2017, Conor McGregor made his professional boxing debut against arguably the most decorated fighter of all time, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Despite the bout being the Notorious One’s first venture into the squared circle, the fight did whopping pay-per-view numbers and is the second highest grossing fight of all time, only behind Mayweather’s victory against Manny Pacquiao two year’s prior.

Back in 2016 and 2017, McGregor was arguably the most recognizable sports star of any kind in the world. He had avenged his only UFC defeat against the aforementioned Nate Diaz, before going on to knockout Eddie Alvarez inside two rounds to become the company’s first-ever simultaneous two-weight world champion. Following that victory, the Irishman stated that there was nothing that excited him within the UFC at any weight class and that it was time to “drag Floyd Mayweather out of bed.”

That was exactly what he did and much to the amazement of sports fans the world over, the fight was officially announced on June 15th, with a four-city world tour taking place shortly thereafter. The tour provided fireworks, and when the bout actually took place, it was more impressive than anyone could have ever imagined.

Esteemed farmer HBO and current ESPN boxing presenter Max Kellerman stated that McGregor wouldn’t even land a punch on Mayweather. He did more than that, he landed more punches on Money than the Pac-Man could manage two years prior. In the end, though, it was the five-weight world boxing champion that got the victory, securing the win via 10th-round TKO.

Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt

Back in 2015, it seemed like Brock Lesnar’s time in the UFC was over. The former Heavyweight Champion left the company back in 2011 off the back of consecutive losses to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. A battle against diverticulitis was thought to have hampered the WWE’s resident Beast Incarnate in those last two fights, and Lesnar promptly returned to the world of professional wrestling. In 2015, Lesnar weighed up a return to Dana White’s company but instead decided to sign a new contract with Vince McMahon’s WWE, all but ending hopes of his return to the Octagon.

Then, during the UFC 199 pay-per-view, a vignette aired promoting the upcoming UFC 200 event, and who would show his face at the end of said vignette? Only Brock freakin’ Lesnar! Joe Rogan on commentary couldn’t believe what he had seen and just a few weeks later, it was announced that the only man to have held the WWE and UFC heavyweight championships would be squaring off against New Zealand’s knockout artist Mark Hunt.

Anticipation for Lesnar’s return to the cage was unprecedented and received much fanfare. When the bout took place, fans were excited to see whether he still had what it took to be a major player in the heavyweight division. And it turns out he did.

Lesnar dominated Hunt for three rounds, securing a unanimous decision victory and neutralizing his Kiwi opponent at every chance he got. But unfortunately for Lesnar, the UFC, and the WWE, he failed a post-fight drug test, and the result was overturned into a no-contest. But despite that, the bout was still one of the biggest UFC crossovers of all time.

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