Could a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter ever make it as a professional boxer? It's a question that has been bandied about for years, as the two combat sports are forever being compared to each other.
Not only are the sports, in general, constantly being sized up next to each other, but the athletes themselves receive the same scrutiny. There's always a new conversation or report adding fuel to the fire.
One week, it may be a feud between Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White and the aging (and quickly becoming irrelevant) boxing promoter Bob Arum. The next week, it may be "Rampage" Quinton Jackson or Nick Diaz threatening to leave the sport of MMA to pursue boxing full time.
Tonight (March 26, 2012), top boxing trainer Freddie Roach appeared on HDNet's "Inside MMA" to discuss who he believes are some of the top boxers who compete in MMA today.
Check out his top five, after the jump:
It should be noted that Roach may be approaching the whole conversation from a place of bias. Four of the five fighters he mentioned are guys who have come to train with him at some point or another in their careers.
That aside, Roach is one of the top trainers in all of boxing, working with his fair share of MMA fighters who are trying to perfect their respective stand up games.
The following is Roach's top five list, in reverse order (with "1" being the best, in his opinion):
5) K.J. Noons -- "K.J. is always in my gym and he's very dedicated with his work ethic. I just love his tenacity in the ring. He comes to fight and he's all about action."
4) Nick Diaz -- "Nick Diaz is one of the most exciting fighters in the world, today. He's great with his hands. He gets sidetracked a little bit, like in his last fight, but I think he'll a great comeback. I'm looking forward to facing him with "GSP" someday, 'cause there's a lot of talk about that."
3) B.J. Penn -- "You know, B.J., he's one of the best strikers I've ever faced, and that I've ever been in the ring with. It's been quite a few years ago, and I think he's close to retiring right now, but I'd call him the "James Toney of MMA," because his weight would fluctuate quite a bit. He'll fight from low weights to heavyweights. He'll fight anyone in the world. He's a good guy to be around, and he's just a hard, hard worker and a great striker."
2) Georges St. Pierre -- "'GSP's' one of the greatest guys in the world. He's a real gentleman and one of the best students I've ever had. I asked him, 'How long did you go home and practice in front of the mirror last night?' Because if I show him a move, he comes back with it the next day, and you know he practiced all night in front of the mirror. So, I love the guy. He's a good guy and a hard worker, and that's what it's all about it hard work."
1) Anderson Silva -- "I had the honor of working with Anderson Silva, when he was in our gym for about five or six days in a row. He told me, 'I'm pretty good at MMA, but I'm not too good at boxing.' He's just a real humble guy and very talented. He is one of the best guys that really understands distance and timing. He fights off the ropes a little bit. I told him that can be a little bit dangerous sometimes and to be careful, but he'll suck you in, he'll set you up, he's one of the most intelligent fighters I've ever seen and have ever worked with."
The great thing about top five lists is the controversy. And the truth is: lists are irrelevant until the respective competitors enter into the ring or cage and settle things in real life.
With that said, it's fun to speculate. We know you Maniacs are students of both MMA and boxing, as a whole. Prove your knowledge by adding your own top five list (of boxers in the sport of MMA) in the comment section below.