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Tyson Fury believes 'MMA is for people who can't box'

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Tyson Fury's had a wild ride to the top. He's shown himself to be a polarizing figure, one capable of staging a superhero intervention in the middle of a press conference while taking an explicit side in a charged debate. He's also reached the pinnacle of his sport, defeating Wladimir Klitschko last weekend to become the boxing heavyweight champion of the world.

Fury's as complicated as ever, perhaps even more enigmatic despite living more in the spotlight now. So, it's worth revisiting whether he still doesn't like MMA. After all, as part of the personality he's crafted, he's used derogatory statements about MMA to stay in the headlines.

"I would take Cain Velasquez out," Fury said in 2013. "MMA, to me, is bulls---. It's for people who can't box and like wrestling on the floor. It's rubbish."

So, now that he's a little older and has extensive training experience with GLORY heavyweight champion Rico Verhoeven, at least giving him exposure to wider martial arts, has his opinion changed?

"Not really. I think MMA is for people who can't box, basically," Fury told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "That's just my opinion on that. It's not really entertaining for me. The only time it's entertaining is when they stand up and punch each other. That's what I think fans like as well.

"I don't think anyone likes to see people roll about the floor," he continued. "I think people want to see the stand-up punching. Even the referee when they're on the floor to get up, get into it. I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people that the best parts of MMA is when they're standing up and trading punches."

In addition to his work in Holland with kickboxers Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita, Fury's also worked in the same gyms as Dan Hardy and Paul Daley. He's not unfamiliar with bigger and, in many cases, UK-local fighters from the MMA side of things. That's softened him, to a degree. He doesn't care for MMA, but he doesn't hold grudges against MMA fighters trying to make a living.

"I don't disrespect what anybody does," Fury said of MMA fighters and kickboxers. "If they're achieving something positive in their life, that's very good and they deserve credit for it. Anybody that can do something good in sports or life in general deserves lots of credit. What I'm saying, where I'm coming from is, the best part of MMA to me is when they're standing up kicking each other and punching each other. Stand-up combat, you see.

"Anything that's stand-up, one-on-one combat, for me, I'm into," Fury declared. "As soon as they start going up and down the floor and scoring points - not too sure how it works - but what I see, I'm not really too interested in. Sometimes they can stay on the floor quite a while before the referee says gets up before anything is going on. I just like to see the strikes getting blowed: punches, kicks, knees, whatever you like. All stand-up action."

Fury's self belief and awareness of the MMA world has lead him before and could lead again into it. Bellator President Scott Coker has previously tried to lure Fury over to Spike TV, but ultimately, the talks couldn't produce anything. Fury confirms he's getting set for an April or March rematch with Kltischko, but hasn't given up hope of trying his hand in a fight against dominant MMA heavyweights.

"Me and Scott Coker's had many conversations in the past about coming to Belltor and fight. I'm the heavyweight champion on the world in boxing and I'd like to unify and switch. I'd like to fight the UFC heavyweight champion. I've been calling Cain Velasquez out for two years and then he got beaten, so it showed you what I said was about right.

"I just want to fight the best, the best stand-up fighter in the world. Whoever is the best stand-up fighter in the world, I want to fight him because I believe I'm that man," he noted. "I don't care if he wants to kick, whatever he wants to do. We can have an all-in fight because I believe I'm the best combat fighter on the planet."

And there's the catch. Fury admitted there's no sense in taking a MMA fight. He doesn't know how to wrestle and doesn't care to learn. He can't kickbox as such, but is interested in what he calls a 'hybrid-rules' bout. "If we could meet in the middle somewhere - a middle ground - then I'd fight anyone of them guys. No problem at all.

"I'm not really interested in a 100 percent MMA fight because obviously, they're not going to stand up and bang with the heavyweight champion of the world, are they? They just want to take me to the floor. That's not my forte. My forte is full, action-packed fighting whether it's stand up, kick, punch - I call it 'everything goes' - or something like that. But not wrestling up and down the floor or whatever, rolling about. I'm not into that sort of stuff."

If any future negotiations with Coker don't work out, Fury isn't closing the door on the UFC taking up his offer. Fury noted UFC President Dana White has publicly reacted to Fury's comments about Velasquez and is generally aware of what happens in the boxing world. To the extent they're willing to accommodate his demands - in essence, putting on a product they've never done before - he'd go wherever he needed to in order to prove his claim of greatness.

"Yes, I believe Dana White knows about me challenging Cain Velasquez out, for many times. He made quite a few comments on it. Dana White's quite a big boxing fan.

"But like I said, anytime, any place, anywhere you want me to fight their heavyweight champion, no problem," Fury repeated. "Let's sort it out, sort out a bit of a hybrid fight and move on."