In the aftermath of his win over Nate Diaz, the new “BMF” champion turned more than a few heads when he called for a fight against “Canelo,” who earned a knockout of his own in a match against Sergey Kovalev on the same night.
A few years ago, the idea of a top UFC fighter calling out a championship boxer seemed like headline chasing. But after Conor McGregor’s reported nine-figure payday to crossover for a massive fight against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, anything is possible.
Beyond the paycheck that would surely accompany a fight of such magnitude, Masvidal’s head coach Mike Brown believes a showdown with “Canelo” would surprise critics who’ve scoffed at the idea of another UFC fighter giving a championship boxer problems in the ring.
“I think he can be very competitive, and he can shock some people,” Brown told MMA Fighting on Tuesday.
While McGregor dabbled in boxing as a youth, Masvidal has considered “the sweet science” his primary base ever since he starting swinging punches to pay the bills more than 16 years ago.
Brown, a former WEC champion, personally has seen the kind of creativity out of Masvidal that he feels would give anybody problems — even the world’s best boxers.
“This is what he’s best at,” Brown said about Masvidal’s boxing. “He’s got maybe the highest fight IQ of anybody I’ve ever met. Boxing is where he’s most comfortable, (and) what he’s been doing the longest since he was a teenager. It comes most natural to him. He also has the ability to change things up and do wild and crazy things with unique footwork with things nobody has ever seen.
“I mean, he’s got an amazing [skill set]. I learn a lot from the guy. I learn things all the time. During camps when I’m training him, I’m learning new things, because he has so many other techniques and ideas that are new or different from what I’ve seen. It’s like exchanging information. I’m getting better all the time, too.”
Brown is now one of the head coaches at American Top Team in Florida, and he points specifically to the fight between McGregor and Mayweather as proof that an MMA fighter isn’t automatically outmatched when crossing over into boxing.
For all the talk that McGregor wouldn’t land a single punch against Mayweather in their fight, the former two-division UFC champion actually connected on several stiff shots. He also won several rounds before he was ultimately finished by 10th round TKO.
Where McGregor kept things competitive with Mayweather for the better part of those 10 rounds, Brown believes Masvidal could take advantage of those same openings against a fighter like Alvarez and make the most of his opportunities in a 12-round battle.
“For whatever reason, the early rounds in that fight were really competitive,” Brown said about McGregor vs. Mayweather. “Whether (or not) it was Mayweather kind of giving those rounds away to kind of let Conor gas himself out to make sure he wasn’t dangerous until he came on. Whatever reason, Conor did really well in the early rounds until he gassed.
“I mean, maybe it was only because Mayweather was throwing those rounds away. Maybe. But he was competitive until he gassed. Jorge’s gas tank is much better than Conor’s.”
It remains to be seen if the UFC would actually allow Masvidal to crossover to boxing, and “Canelo” obviously plays a part in that decision as well. But it appears for now, this is more than just a publicity stunt being used to drum up attention after UFC 244.