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Dana White Says Mayweather, Pacquiao Would Lose in MMA

UFC President Dana White gave an interview Monday morning in which he talked about all the usual things (promoting the soon-to-be released UFC video game and this weekend's UFC pay-per-view), but he also had an interesting exchange with radio host Dan Patrick about the world's two best boxers, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

White said Mayweather and Pacquiao would lose if they gave mixed martial arts a try. I think he's half right.

Patrick asked White, "If I put Pacquiao and Mayweather in the Octagon, could you tell -- from their boxing skills -- how they would be in the Octagon?"

White answered, "I'm a huge Pacquiao fan. Pacquiao is a more aggressive fighter and his fights are more fun to watch, but either one of those guys would get beaten in mixed martial arts."

Obviously, White isn't going to say that Mayweather or Pacquiao could just waltz into MMA and beat the best fighters, but it is worth noting that it's far from unprecedented for an accomplished athlete in one combat sport toget into MMA and find success quickly. Brock Lesnar, after all, was an NCAA champion wrestler who won the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth professional MMA fight.

It's also a little strange that White is saying Mayweather or Pacquiao would lose in MMA while he's preparing to promote a fight featuring boxer James Toney making his MMA debut against Randy Couture. If the two best boxers in the world can't win in MMA, why even bother watching a washed-up boxer like Toney?

Ultimately, I think White is underestimating how Mayweather or Pacquiao would do in MMA -- and in fact, I think Pacquiao would have an excellent chance of winning a championship in MMA if he ever wanted to try it.

Mayweather is a great athlete with incredible cardiovascular conditioning, great defensive skills and head movement, and tremendous hand speed, and he'd be a threat to a lot of the best 145-pound fighters in MMA. I couldn't see him winning the championship, though: If Mayweather were to fight the best MMA fighter in his weight class, WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, he'd get his leg kicked into oblivion.

But Pacquiao is a different fighter altogether. For starters, it's important to remember that Pacquiao is boxing above his natural weight class because after he dominated all the guys his own size he didn't have anyone else to fight. If Pacquiao were ever going to try MMA, he'd do it at 135 pounds. And the top 135-pounder in MMA, WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, would have his hands full in a fight with Pacquiao.

Cruz would try to use his superior reach to land some kicks against Pacquiao and then try to take him down, but Pacquiao is such a fast and powerful puncher that I would give him a real chance of knocking Cruz out in an MMA fight.

This is never going to happen, of course. Mayweather and Pacquiao can make more money for one fight than any MMA fighter has ever made in his entire career, so neither one of them is ever going to give MMA a try. But I hope a day comes when a truly elite boxer tries MMA at the top of his career. If it ever happens, I think that boxer will do better than Dana White -- and most MMA fans -- would like to think.
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