The pound-for-pound debate in combat sports is one that will forever be disputed, especially when professional boxers and mixed martial arts (MMA) champions stay in their own lanes ... for the most part.
While Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was initially created to have world class fighters from various disciplines take on each other inside the cage, it hasn’t done much to end the argument as to who would win in a fight between the best boxer and best MMA combatant in the world.
Sure, Floyd Mayweather toyed with Conor McGregor in a boxing ring, but the results would be drastically different if that contest took place inside the Octagon. Just ask James Toney. At the end of the day, it’s two different sports, two different results.
That’s why UFC Middleweight kingpin, Israel Adesanya, takes issue with a boxer like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez being labeled the best fighter in the world.
“Did you see Canelo’s last fight? He did something really amazing, four-time world champion, beautiful,” Adesanya said during a recent sit down with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
“People are like, ‘He’s now the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.’ Fighter. Mayweather has been saying that for years. It’s best pound-for-pound boxer,” he added.
According to “The Last Stylebender,” the blueprint to become a successful world boxing champion is pretty easy to follow, but he chose a different route for a bigger challenge.
“If you want to fight, I could have done the same thing. I could have done boxing and do the blueprint — fight some journeymen, some bums, fight a local champions, climb the ranks, build your record up and then fight the world champion and get a belt,” he explained.
“I could have done that in kickboxing, but I know in my heart, my soul, if I faced up against a guy with a different style, a judo guy, jiu-jitsu guy in the streets ... who’s going to break it up in the clinch? They’re throwing leg kicks at me and if I don’t know how to check e leg kick, what’s going to happen?”
“I never want to feel vulnerable in any situation. I never want to feel like any man can checkmate me in any position. So I have to humble myself and go back to the drawing board and learn and study and hone your craft of fighting in all aspects,” he added.
Speaking of craft, Adesanya says fight fans and his opponents still haven't seen his ground game, specifically his ground-and-pound attack, which he says mirrors that of Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“You haven’t even seen my ground game yet, just bits and pieces. You haven't seen my top game. Khabib isn’t the only who can maul people,” he ended with a laugh.
Yoel Romero, an accomplished freestyle wrestler, could be just the guy to take him down and test his skills on the ground.