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5 UFC fighters who could actually give Floyd Mayweather a tough boxing match

Floyd Mayweather (left), Max Holloway (top right), Sean O
Floyd Mayweather (left), Max Holloway (top right), Sean O'Malley (center right), Cody Garbrandt (bottom right)
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 30 Mar 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

Floyd Mayweather is a special sportsman. He is a once in a generation athlete. He’s as unbeatable as they come. Some of the best in the world have challenged that definition but on all 50 occasions they’ve failed. He is simply the best.

There aren’t many accolades that the man known as “Money” hasn’t accomplished in his career. Fighter of the Decade for the 2010’s, check. Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year award on two occasions, check. 15 major world titles, check. Career earnings of over $1 billion, check. There is no word count that can include every one of his achievements.

In 2017, it was the turn of MMA’s biggest superstar to challenge the undefeated Mayweather. Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor gave us a memorable crossover fight.

Making the switch from 4-oz gloves to eight, the Irishman put in a valiant effort. Mayweather won via TKO in the 10th round. Nevertheless, McGregor did the MMA world proud and managed to land 111 of 430 punches thrown at an accuracy percentage of 26%, that was higher than Floyd Mayweather’s previous nine opponents, including Manny Pacquiao.

The question since has been can any other UFC fighter give Floyd Mayweather a tough boxing match? With that said, here are five that might stand a chance. It's worth noting that I don't believe any of these fighters would beat Floyd Mayweather. Some of the best professional boxers have tried and failed.

The names on this list are simply fighters that could perhaps make it interesting and make it somewhat tough. I wouldn't expect any of them to stand a chance at winning, but everyone loves a bit of fantasy booking don't they!


#5 Sean O'Malley vs Floyd Mayweather

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Sean O
Sean O'Malley (left) and Floyd Mayweather (right)

The “Sugar Show” versus the “Money” show. This clash of charismatic personalities would be quite something if this were to ever happen. The esthetic of O’Malley’s rainbow-hair in the ring with the legendary Floyd Mayweather makes for some interesting imagery. Although it should look out of place, in my mind it works.

O’Malley is unique. It’s almost surreal to see someone beat another person up as effortlessly as “Sugar” does. Whenever you hear hype trains mentioned, whether in a good or bad way, it’s because they’ve done something to warrant hype. O’Malley has done that and more.

Against a tough Thomas Almeida at UFC 260 this past weekend, the 26-year-old displayed his speed, his power and his unique style. He dropped the Brazilian twice and finished the fight with as brutal a punch as you’ll see across combat sport.

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His power is clear, but his technique that compliments it is satisfying to watch. Just look at his highlight knockout of Eddie Wineland at UFC 250. The uppercut feint into the straight-right punch was something to behold. In the time it took to write this entry I've probably watched it over a dozen times, it never gets old.

With such a unique fighting style and wide array of feints and head movements, O’Malley could bring Floyd Mayweather something he’s not seen or fought against before. Pre-fight talk and antics would be enough to make this matchup worthwhile.


#4 Cody Garbrandt vs Floyd Mayweather

Cody Garbrandt (left) and Floyd Mayweather (right)
Cody Garbrandt (left) and Floyd Mayweather (right)

Joe Rogan said it best at UFC 250:

“I don’t think there’s a man faster.”

Cody Garbrandt has TNT in his hands and last year, Raphael Assuncao was the site of their detonation; a powerful right hand rendered him unconscious.

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“No Love” has done what many struggle to do. He’s combined explosive power with lightning speed. That alone makes a matchup with Floyd Mayweather an interesting prospect. The 29-year-old has amassed 10 knockouts in his 12 MMA wins, the last of which had the entire MMA community talking.

It would be intriguing to see how Floyd Mayweather would deal with both forms of the former UFC bantamweight champion; the crazy swinging Garbrandt, or the patient predator who pounces on a mistake and finds a finish.

Floyd Mayweather is largely considered to be the greatest defensive boxer of all time. It would be interesting to see how he would approach dealing with Garbrandt's brutal power shots, but then again he is Floyd Mayweather, so probably pretty comfortably if we're being honest...


#3 Israel Adesanya vs Floyd Mayweather

Israel Adesanya (left) and Floyd Mayweather (right)
Israel Adesanya (left) and Floyd Mayweather (right)
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“The Last Stylebender” versus “Pretty Boy.” There is a bit of a size discrepancy with this one but Floyd Mayweather was going to fight Logan Paul and that was bigger, so we’ll run with it. What a blockbuster clash this would be.

The rapid rise of Israel Adesanya from debutant to prospect to contender to champion has been remarkable. Sitting at the top of the middleweight food chain, the 31-year-old has looked totally dominant and unstoppable. Since dominating Robert Whittaker to capture the title, “The Last Stylebender” has defended the title against Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero.

Imagine the entrance Adesanya would give us for a walkout to face Floyd Mayweather in front of a sold out crowd. Imagination is not enough to do justice to that spectacle.

Technically, Adesanya is one of the best strikers in the division. His length and reach makes it near-impossible to inflict damage on him and any doubts about his knockout power swiftly evaporated when he floored Robert Whittaker. The entertainment this matchup would bring both inside the ring and outside of it is immeasurable.

There's already some underlying beef with this one too. When discussing Jon Jones last summer, Adesanya claimed he had copied Floyd Mayweather's tactic of calling people out to "remain relevant."


#2 Jorge Masvidal vs Floyd Mayweather

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor
Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor

Not much would say “Gamebred” like stepping in the ring with arguably the greatest boxer of all time. I don’t think anyone would doubt Jorge Masvidal’s willingness to do exactly that. This matchup is the closest we’d come to a star-studded crossover at the level of Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor.

The symbolic BMF champion has already thrown his hat into the mix to face Floyd Mayweather. Masvidal told the 44-year-old to “go back to Japan and beat up little guys” if he’s not interested in testing himself against one of the UFC’s top strikers. In the words of Masvidal himself, this matchup is “super necessary.” Not really, but it sounds good to say and I’m not sure many would be against these two combat sport behemoths colliding.

Since returning to the Octagon a new man in 2019, Masvidal has shown his lethal striking. Knockout wins over Darren Till and Ben Askren, as well as a striking masterclass against Nate Diaz, have pushed him into the bracket of the elite.

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Not many take advantage of switching stances as much as Masvidal. Along with his powerful and unique entry into exchanges, the Miami-born welterweight could give Mayweather more trouble than some boxers have in his career. Let’s get these two in the same ring…


#1 Max Holloway vs Floyd Mayweather

Max Holloway (left) and Floyd Mayweather (right)
Max Holloway (left) and Floyd Mayweather (right)

It's only right to let Max Holloway start this one off by saying:

“I’m the best boxer in the UFC…”

In the first main event of 2021, Holloway, 29, kicked off the year in style. He faced Calvin Kattar. “The Boston Finisher might just be the most resilient fighter in the UFC. Holloway beat him bloody from 445 strikes. It was a dominant performance from the former UFC featherweight champion; a masterclass in striking.

The ability to throw as hard and as often as Holloway did in that fight is truly remarkable. It would be quite a sight seeing the stamina, strike-rate and accuracy of Holloway tested against a boxing legend like Mayweather.

The self-proclaimed best boxer in the UFC versus the widely proclaimed best boxer in history. Fantasy fights don’t get much better than that.

Published 30 Mar 2021, 23:51 IST
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