Actually, this is a conversation I have pretty regularly with a lot of my friends who are big boxing fans. I think that, of all of the great professional boxers, Tyson is the one that's most interesting in terms of MMA.
Now With The Toney vs. Couture fight coming up i thought it would be interesting to get your guys opinion on how Mike Tyson in his prime would do in MMA. James Toney is one hell of a boxer but I dont think he quite compares to Tyson. With Tyson's devastating knockout power, is it fair to say a guy being so good at one aspect of MMA would do well in lets say the UFC? Now typically any other boxer wouldn't stand a chance but in my opinion Tyson is so explosive and powerful he would be able to knock people out on his BACK.
This is a guy with big, powerful legs, great quickness, athleticism, evasiveness and explosiveness. He's everything that a coach wants in an up-and-coming fighter. Apart from the fact that he may be the greatest boxer in the history of the modern pugilism, his style is awesome for MMA.
People talk about how much the power of Brock Lesnar or Shane Carwin plays into his ability to be effective in the standup. Well, this is a guy with that power, and that same athletic quickness of Lesnar or even a Dos Santos, and much better head movement.
Now, if he was a young guy, if he could still learn to fight off of his back, he'd be great. But you have to operate from the assumption that he would attempt to cultivate a ground game and some wrestling.
If you take Mike Tyson's boxing and give him the jiu-jitsu or wrestling even of a mediocre grappler who can just stay alive on the ground, he could be absolutely devastating. With his athleticism, though, one wonders how easy it would be for him to pick up that game.
Still, to say a young Tyson would have been an interesting prospect is absolutely right. If he had a wresting game that was substantial, he could be for MMA ten time what Chuck Liddell was, purely on the basis of his being faster and more explosive. If he developed that takedown defense, he'd be one of those great fighters.
But MMA is a tricky sport to call, because until you see how a game progresses you can't look at it in the context of matchups. If Tyson had the takedown defense of a Chuck Liddell, the best matchup for dealing with him would be radically different than if he dedicated his time to working his guard. It's hard to say where he'd fit in the current heavyweight division except to waste time stating the obvious, which is this: If Mike Tyson fought in MMA, he would have the best hands of any fighter in the history of the sport.
And, in case it's not obvious to you, that's because Mike Tyson (in many estimations) has the best hands in the history of pugilism.