5 MMA fighters who have successfully transitioned to boxing

Jake Paul v Anderson Silva
Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva [Image Courtesy: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]

Mixed martial artists are widely regarded as the most complete fighters in the world of combat sports. Many MMA fighters are jacks of all trades, exhibiting skill in striking, grappling and wrestling. Thus, they often draw comparisons with other combat sports, especially boxing.

Few will ever forget Conor McGregor's lucrative boxing match with PPV record-breaker and legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Despite the Irishman's best efforts, he failed to defeat 'Money'. That, however, does not mean that every MMA fighter has struggled to find success in boxing.

In fact, several MMA fighters have managed to do well in the sport, even if they never captured world titles like Holly Holm did prior to her transition to MMA. With that in mind, this list compiles five mixed martial artists who successfully transitioned to boxing.

#5. Cris Cyborg, Quadruple MMA women's champion

Brazilian power-puncher Cris Cyborg is one of the greatest women's MMA fighters of all time. She is the only quadruple or Grand Slam Champion in MMA, having captured championship gold in the UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce and Invicta: four major mixed martial arts promotions.

She ranks among the most dominant fighters in women's MMA history and is well-known for her heavy hands and ruthless striking. Ahead of her historic loss to Amanda Nunes, the reigning Bellator women's featherweight champion trained with boxing GWOAT Claressa Shields.

Her experience with Shields was highly beneficial as Cyborg later took part in two boxing bouts in late 2022, scoring two wins to amass a short but undefeated record as a professional boxer.

#4. Michael 'Venom' Page, Bellator welterweight

Flashy strikers are plentiful in MMA. However, few of them are as credentialed as Michael 'Venom' Page, whose honors in semi-contact kickboxing and traditional martial arts are impressive. Unfortunately, 'MVP' is yet to capture a title in mixed martial arts, twice tasting defeat in Bellator bouts with title implications.

Back in 2017, with his MMA career in full swing, the welterweight striking sensation took part in a boxing match against Jonathan Castano. 'MVP' wasted no time imposing himself en route to defeating his foe via third-round TKO. He followed up his performance with a second-round KO over Michal Ciach the following year.

Despite his unbeaten record of two professional boxing wins, Page has not returned to the squared circle since 2018. Instead, he took part in a bareknuckle-boxing bout against former UFC welterweight Mike Perry, losing a majority decision.

#3. Vitor Belfort, former UFC light heavyweight champion

At the peak of his career, retired MMA fighter Vitor Belfort was an offensive buzzsaw with lightning-quick hands and nuclear heat in his punches. The Brazilian was a dynamic striking threat, which enabled him to rack up the second-most knockouts and most first-round finishes in UFC history.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion's breadth of knockout power left a trail of unconscious bodies in his wake, including former middleweight champions Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold. This rendered him well-equipped for a career as a thrilling boxer, which he embarked on in late 2021.

The Brazilian took part in an exhibition boxing match against all-time great heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield, scoring a first-round TKO. Vitor Belfort subsequently returned to professional boxing, defeating Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza in 2023 to record his first professional boxing win since 2006.

#2. Anderson Silva, former UFC middleweight champion

Anderson Silva is one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. 'The Spider' is often shortlisted as a top-three all-time great in the sport. He owns numerous records, including the longest win streak in UFC history, as well as the longest-ever finish streak in the promotion.

The former UFC middleweight champion dazzled fans with his slick striking skills and lethal punching power. During the height of his career, 'The Spider' hoped for a boxing match with Hall of Fame boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. While the American pugilist matched Silva's interest, the bout never came to fruition.

UFC president Dana White was against the idea. Thus, the Brazilian, who previously held a record of one win and one loss in boxing prior to his UFC career, waited until he walked away from the promotion. Afterwards, he faced former WBC middleweight champion Julio César Chávez Jr.

'The Spider' impressed viewers with his performance, defeating the former boxing world champion via split-decision. He subsequently defeated former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz via first-round KO, before tasting defeat against Jake Paul, suffering a unanimous decision loss.

#1. Fábio Maldonado, former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight

Most fans won't remember Fábio Maldonado. While he never came close to capturing UFC gold, he has fought several fighters who have. He suffered high-profile losses against the likes of Stipe Miocic, Glover Teixeira and Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson.

The Brazilian even faced heavyweight MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko in his first bout after leaving the UFC. However, unlike most fighters who have boxing matches either before or after their MMA careers ended, Maldonado fought concurrently in both boxing and mixed martial arts.

While Maldonado never won a world title, he won several national and regional championships. He also fought for the WBA-NABA and WBC-NABF titles, losing both times. Despite his lack of world title success, the Brazilian racked up 25 boxing wins, suffering just five losses in 32 bouts.

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