Mike Tyson visits UFC show, praises MMA’s appeal
Mike Tyson is making a visit to the UFC’s octagon for an up-close look at mixed martial arts.
Tyson will appear Wednesday night on an episode of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the UFC’s popular reality show on Spike TV.
The former heavyweight boxing champion spoke with show coaches Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck while checking out the UFC’s gym and training techniques.
“I was just enjoying the scenery and everything,” Tyson said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was pretty exciting. They get together and work on things together, and it’s great to see how hard they train. This sport is amazing stuff, good stuff.”
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Tyson is a longtime MMA fan who has a friendship with UFC president Dana White, but any fans longing to see Iron Mike in a ring or an octagon shouldn’t hold their breath. The 44-year-old has no plans to fight again in either sport.
Tyson has strong opinions on MMA, however. He watched with disappointment when former heavyweight boxing champion James Toney was dominated by Randy Couture in Toney’s UFC debut in late August.
“You have to admit, Toney looked horrible,” Tyson said. “He looked slow. He didn’t look like a seasoned, conditioned athlete. You only had to look at his body structure. No way, Toney didn’t get ready to fight a real, professional athlete like Randy is. It was ridiculous. He had no respect for Randy.”
Yet Tyson also believes a boxer could thrive in MMA with the proper training. He thinks a boxer’s mental attitude and conditioning would be just as important as his martial arts skills in conquering the cage.
“I know 100 percent that a boxer (could win),” Tyson said. “As long as he learns how to grapple and wrestle, he could do great. You’ve got to go in there respecting the sport, and not just thinking you’re going to knock somebody out every time. It’s a complicated sport, but a good boxer has to be a great athlete anyway.”
Tyson has attended UFC fights for several years, and he would relish the chance to discuss the sport in greater detail as an MMA commentator. White has posted video interviews with Tyson before past fights.
Tyson doesn’t believe any promoter could ever gain control over boxing in the same manner that White has put the majority of the world’s best MMA fighters under a single promotional banner.
“He’s about entertainment for real, like boxing used to be,” Tyson said. “Even the walk-in is entertainment. Everything is off the hook.”
Tyson hasn’t fought since June 2005, when he lost to Kevin McBride for his third defeat in four fights. Although Tyson remained a major ring attraction even during his late-career decline, he knows most fighters aren’t so lucky – and that’s just another reason he loves MMA’s attitudes toward comebacks.
“There are second chances in this sport,” Tyson said. “Once boxers lose a fight, everybody gives up on them. They have a chance to come back and redeem themselves in MMA, and I love that. There’s no fake fights in MMA, either. Everything is about the guys in there.”
After living one of the most tumultuous lives in modern sports, Tyson has settled into life in Las Vegas as a father of seven – with an eighth on the way – and as an entertainment figure with cachet in movies and TV.
In addition to his acclaimed role in “The Hangover” and a 2008 documentary on his life made by director James Toback, Tyson recently filmed a spoof of Bobby Brown’s 21-year-old “Every Little Step” video for the Funny or Die website. Looking trimmer than in recent month, Tyson dances in a black suit with no shirt alongside song-and-dance man Wayne Brady.
“It’s hilarious,” Tyson said. “It was a really funny thing to do. I’m having fun.”
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