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Morning Report: Amir Khan says he would fight Conor McGregor in MMA, only needs a year of cross training

Esther Lin

Boxing vs. MMA never die.

A couple of months ago, when Conor McGregor was theoretically retired from MMA and potentially pursuing other things as leverage for negotiations with the UFC, rumors flew that Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor were setting up a boxing match that would be one of the biggest fights in history. Then, McGregor came to terms with the UFC and was placed on UFC 202 in a rematch with Nate Diaz and those rumors cooled. Well, now another former world champion boxer is throwing his name in the ring with McGregor.

Former IBF and WBA light welterweight champion (140 lbs.) Amir Khan spoke with FloCombat about the Mayweather-McGregor rumors and his willingness to fight McGregor in MMA.

"It would've been a great business move, but I don't think it would've been a good fight. I don't think Mayweather would want to fight under MMA rules. I look at it more as a publicity stunt. People were talking about it. It worked while it lasted, and they brought the hype up.

"I'm a little different in that sense, where I would get into a cage and I would fight in MMA rules, so that's the difference between me and Mayweather. I would definitely give it a go. It's something to learn, as well. I'm at that age where I'm still learning, adapting and getting better. So I still have time under me as well. I'm still a young lad and got loads left in me."

When the rumors of Mayweather-McGregor were running rampant one of the key points was that their bout would be contested under boxing rules since Mayweather is the larger draw and commanded the leverage to make such demands. However, Dana White - who as the contractual promoter of all McGregor fights would be an integral part of any such fight - was adamant that Floyd would have to negotiate some rules changes (like allowing for kicks or knees), or else it would be too advantageous for Mayweather. This was one of the reasons many people had no belief such a fight would be made. It seems Khan wouldn't let something like that stand in the way.

"I would, definitely [fight in the UFC]. Something like that would be massive. Even if I started to train MMA next year, I'd only be 30 years old. I could stop and train for a full year and become a good MMA fighter. It's in our blood to fight. I've been fighting all my life, so for me, I don't think it'd be a problem for me to learn and switch over to the sport."

Khan's willingness to fight a full MMA bout would seemingly make this a much more likely potential fight for McGregor, but it does come at the cost of Mayweather's star power. Khan is a former champion and Olympic silver medalist who was a highly touted rising star and is currently ranked as the No. 3 welterweight by Ring Magazine. He was previously in talks with Mayweather for a match and his most recent bout was knockout loss to middleweight Canelo Alvarez earlier this year in a fight he was performing well in until suffering a potential KO of the year. All of this is to day that Khan is a well known boxer but but he isn't anywhere near the star of Mayweather. Considering that, one would have to believe that Khan would only be considered by McGregor if a Mayweather fight proved impossible to make, something Khan thinks is the case.

"I don't think Mayweather would ever take it. When Mayweather knows he's in a real fight, he just backs out of it. It was good hype while it lasted but I knew it was never going to happen. If it did happen, it would be the biggest fight ever."

Should it happen, Khan would be the most high-profile boxer ever to transition to MMA. Other former champions have crossed over - Ray Mercer and James Toney for instance-  but they did so well past their primes. Khan is only 29 years old and ostensibly still has several years of good athletic competition left. The UFC has shown a willingness to sign well known, unproven would-be MMA fighters and giving them time to train for their debuts (here's looking at you, CM Punk) so booking a former world champion boxer wouldn't be outside of the realm of possibility.

As far as how Khan would foresee such a fight unfolding, he thinks his years of boxing experience would give him the edge over McGregor who is primarily a MMA boxer.

"I think McGregor has some great boxing skills. A good boxer will always win a MMA fight--I've always said that. A good puncher will always win. You saw in the Aldo fight--he took a step back and countered him as he came in. With boxing, it's all about distance and timing, and that's something we have on our side more than MMA fighters."

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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

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2002: Yushin Okami fought in his final amateur MMA bout, knocking out Hidehisa Matsuda at Pride: The Best Volume 2.

2009: Marius Zaromskis won the Dream welterweight grand prix and was crowned welterweight champion. That night he beat Hayato Sakurai in the semifinals and Jason High in the finals, both with head kick knockouts.

2012: At Bellator 72 Karl Amoussou won the Bellator welterweight tournament final, defeating Bryan Baker with an inverted heel hook. This event also featured the promotional debut of Paul Daley.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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Ahhh, boxing versus MMA. How delightful. Honestly, if he is on the level, the idea of Amir Khan fighting in MMA is pretty tantalizing. Yes, he is woefully behind in the other facets of combat, and yes the idea that he can train for a year and suddenly know anything about wrestling or BJJ is asinine, but there is a difference in thinking about him coming in as a champion and just coming in as an experiment. For years, fans have wondered how a boxer in their prime would do given some proper MMA training - Kermit Cintron was always the first guy mentioned in this conversation - and now we might actually get that? It would be fascinating to find out..

And frankly, I'd be more interested in a fight between McGregor and Khan than this Diaz rematch. Yes, McGregor probably takes Khan down and taps him swiftly but at least there is some intrigue in if Khan can learn good counter wrestling and how that fight looks on the feet - remember, Conor would be the bigger man and 4 ounce gloves are a lot different than boxing gloves. The Diaz fight realistically has only two likely outcomes, a copy of their first fight where Nate eventually jaws him and then taps him, or Conor takes a more measured approach and wins a decision. That's why this rematch makes no sense to me. Best-case scenario, Conor rebounds from getting rocked and submitted in the second round by winning on points; not exactly the emphatic redemption he is seeking. Having said that, the Conor-Nate fight will be incredibly fun to watch because both of them are incredibly exciting fighters.

Anyway, this is all moot because Khan probably won't do it anyway. He can make more money in boxing than he can in MMA. But it is something I'd be interested in for sure. Have a good one y'all. Until tomorrow.

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If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.

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