There’s a UFC Fight Night tomorrow. Did you know?
If not, well, I can’t entirely blame you.
Despite boasting some fairly solid star power — the main event features a Hall of Fame heavyweight in Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira against a fairly popular attraction in Roy “Big Country” Nelson, and the co-main has two borderline top ten featherweights in Tatsuya Kawajiri against Clay Guida — UFC Fight Night 39 is flying under the radar of a lot of MMA fans.
Owe it to its 2 pm EST/11 am PST start time, or its setting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates… or, the fact that it’s the first noteworthy UFC event only available on UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s online subscription service which has failed to catch on.
Or, owe it to the timing…
Sure, UFC Fight Night 39 is the same day as an interesting Bellator card, featuring the continued development of heavyweight prospect Blagoy Ivanov. It’s also the same weekend as a pretty spectacular GLORY event, featuring the return of Tyrone Spong in a light heavyweight kickboxing tournament.
But, let’s be honest. The marquee fight of the weekend belongs to HBO Boxing and their PPV moneymaker, Manny Pacquiao, who faces Timothy Bradley in a rematch of their controversial 2013 bout on Saturday.
Pacquaio may be in the twilight of his great career, but it’s clear the sun hasn’t quite set. And why not? Look what he’s accomplished. A spirited review of Pacquiao’s unorthodox style by one of the best in the business, Jack Slack, memorably describes Pacquiao as “the man who reinvented boxing.”
So this week belongs to “the sweet science,” but it makes you wonder.
What if the tables were turned?
How would Pacquiao have done in MMA?
Slack does a great job of breaking down Pacquiao’s boxing style. Here in the MMA world, we sometimes lose sight of the angles and movement that great boxers employ. We watch for a good sprawl and a quick leg kick more than a boxer’s footwork. But Anderson Silva proved it can be just as vital.
Watch Pacquaio deftly “turn” his opponents, stepping his lead foot outside of his opponents’ lead — then getting his right shoulder centered up to land his ferocious straight left. Watch him moving in and out to stagger his opponents with that left, and, as his career progressed, an equally dangerous right hook. Watch him pivot away from an opponent like future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cotto for blinding combinations — combinations that commentator Emmanuel Steward famously observed aren’t really taught… they’re just innate.
So, what do you think? How would that level of craft, that command of reflexes, that punishing power — look in the Octagon?
To add a little fuel to the fire, Boxing Scene reported that Pacquiao was asked at a 2010 press conference about the possibility of fighting in the cage.
He answered, with his typical impish smile: “I’d like to, but they don’t want me to fight…”
Maybe it’s just as well. Pacquiao’s boxing career has been a sight to behold. Maybe you’re like me, and see the old star deteriorating a bit, and would rather see him retire now. Maybe you’re more excited about that GLORY show.
But, hey — Pacquaio in MMA. It’s a fun thing to imagine.
So, let us know what you think. Could Manny Pacquiao have had the same impact on MMA as he had on boxing?
Front-Page Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports