If Floyd Mayweather is to be believed, his transition into mixed martial arts remains a real possibility.
The retired boxer told TMZ this week he intends apply for an MMA license -- and has mentioned a potential time frame of six to eight months before entering the Octagon.
Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) has also stated he plans on working with UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who has confirmed those plans. Woodley told ESPN the preparations will take place in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
If this proves to be true, what will that look like exactly? How does one prepare a 41-year-old boxer for his first UFC fight -- in six months?
ESPN asked several MMA coaches how they would prepare Mayweather for an MMA fight, and whether they believe he'll actually go through with it.
Firas Zahabi, Tristar MMA
First, I would try to talk him out of it. Honestly. I would sit him down and say, "Listen, man. I know I can make a lot of money training you, but I want to talk you out of it." If that didn't work, I would bring him to practice and put him through the ropes, and try to gently convince him not to fight MMA. So I would try to stop him two ways: verbally and physically. And if he still wants to fight after that, I would train him wholeheartedly, because I would believe he's all in.
Basics of wrestling, kicking and jiu-jitsu. That's all you can do. Just learning the basics will take longer than six months. I would say, "These guys are going to kick you," and let him adapt, see how he reacts. And I would make sure nobody hurts him during that. Instead of giving him an answer, let him experiment -- and let him do it without getting hurt.
Honestly, I don't see it. I would love to see him fight but not against an opponent who would just crush him. What's the point of that? A better fight for Mayweather is to fight Georges St-Pierre in boxing. Fight GSP in boxing. That will be another night for him in the spotlight. If he goes to MMA, he'll have the spotlight again, but he'll just get hurt doing it.
Javier Mendez, American Kickboxing Academy
He would need to be able to counter-wrestle. I wouldn't put any barriers on him, but I would definitely say time is of the essence. I've never seen it happen yet, where someone comes in and is a killer right off the bat. And in cases close to that, they need incredible power.
You know someone who would have been good at MMA right off the bat? Mike Tyson. His style would have been a wrecking machine. His stance was lower, he wasn't that tall, any punch he lands is lights out. He'd be dangerous after six months of training. Floyd's boxing style is horrible for MMA. Horrible. You'd have to completely switch his style. But he's a great athlete, so if he decided to do that, he could.
I don't believe he'll take an MMA fight. I believe he will fight Conor in another boxing match -- that I will watch. That's what makes sense to me. Where else can he make the kind of money he wants? He won't be able to make it in MMA unless he's willing to start 0-1. And his ego is way too big to accept defeat.
Jimmy Gifford, Las Vegas striking coach
That boxing stance he's got, he's gonna eat kicks. And he's never felt anything like that. Changing that stance up is a tough go. I wouldn't spend too much time on wrestling, per se. You're not gonna shoot a takedown. He's gotta learn how to get up and anti-wrestle, and he's gotta learn how to check leg kicks.
He's pretty flat-footed, left hand down, right hand up -- it's very hard to parry and catch punches with small gloves. The way he catches punches and shoulder rolls -- those gloves are 4-ounce sleeping pills, you ain't shoulder rolling gloves like that.
If you said to me, "Mike Tyson in his prime is going to try MMA," that's a different animal. I don't think it's a real good fit, MMA and Floyd.
If he's getting paid what he wants, I think he does it. One year ago, I would have said, "No way." It's a crazy world we live in these days. I'd say it's 50-50. If he fights Conor [McGregor], I think it's a bad deal -- like "27 stitches" bad deal. And if I was with Conor, I'd say, "Listen, man. Don't get him out of there. Abuse him first."
Mike Brown, American Top Team
It's not easy to pick up wrestling in your 40s. Just like it's not easy to pick up skateboarding in your 40s. The older you get, the tougher it is to learn, like picking up a new language.
Especially with wrestling, the chance of injury is high. Most MMA injuries happen in wrestling, and you couldn't treat him like a 17-year-old. When you're young, a lot of it comes from just scrapping and learning on your own. You're shown the basics, and then it's trial and error, scrap it out every day. That's too grueling for someone in their 40s. Boxing is bad for the brain; wrestling is bad for the joints.
No, I don't believe him. They would have to be so selective with an opponent. He'd have to fight a guy with no grappling at all, maybe some over-the-hill kickboxer who has also never fought in MMA. My guess is no.
Trevor Wittman, Grudge Training Center
My strategy would be to tell him to find another coach. I think a lot of times this can become a circus. Entertainment is fine, but I don't want any part of it. I take this sport seriously as a coach. If they're going to go out and give him a fight with some wrestler from the WWE? To me, that's stupid. The only fight that would make sense would be McGregor, and I still wouldn't want to coach that. Mayweather would have no chance. You can't get ready in six months.
I think he'd be stupid if he did it. That's just my opinion. I initially thought McGregor boxing Mayweather was bad for the sport, and when it happened, it was beautiful and I thought it helped both sports. So I was cool with that. But to ask for it to happen again, that's kind of crazy to me. I think it was a one-hit wonder.
Duke Roufus, Roufusport
Teach him how to box in an MMA environment. Get him used to boxing while guys are constantly shooting on him. Get him used to boxing and parrying with 4-ounce gloves. You can't teach him much in six months, but you can adapt what he's awesome at. He has the reactions. He's calm, cool and cat-like. That's important. I can know the technique, but if I'm not athletic enough to react to your shot, it doesn't matter.
Of course I think he does it. I think Floyd is at a stage in his life where he's accomplished everything in boxing. We know he's money-motivated. I think he could change the landscape of fight sports. You've got big names in boxing, like Gervonta Davis and Vasyl Lomachenko, saying they want to fight in the UFC. That speaks volumes to what's going on in the UFC, that these guys speak about it like that.
Duane Ludwig, Ludwig Martial Arts
I would need to break down his footwork inside the cage, to get a baseline of what we'd do. Footwork, footwork, long strikes -- make sure he's reading that new rhythm.
I wouldn't necessarily teach him takedown defense as much as I'd teach him to just wrestle. If all you're learning is defense, that's reactionary, so you're already a half-second slower. If you're learning to wrestle, then you're a half-second faster at what's going on.
The distance is different in mixed martial arts. A boxing distance is closer. We have to be able to strike with footwork, when you have that longer space between you.
I don't believe he'll do it, because he'll get smoked. It depends on the opponent, but I don't think it's a good idea. Unless he takes some awful opponent, which wouldn't make sense.