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6 Professional Boxers Who Transitioned Into MMA

James Toney

James Nathaniel Toney (born August 24, 1968) is an American professional boxer. He is a three-time world champion in three weight classes, having held the IBF and lineal middleweight titles from 1991 to 1993; the IBF super middleweight title from 1993 to 1994; and the IBF cruiserweight title in 2003. Additionally he has challenged twice for a world heavyweight title.

Toney was spotted in attendance at UFC 108 on January 2, 2010, which led to talks between him and UFC President Dana White regarding fighting in the organisation. On March 3, it was confirmed by White that the two had agreed and signed a multi-fight deal with the company, at the age of 42. His debut fight was against UFC Hall of Famer and former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight champion Randy Couture at UFC 118 on August 28, 2010. Couture scored a takedown against Toney 15 seconds into the first round and at 3:19, Couture submitted Toney. Toney was subsequently released from his contract with the UFC.


Ray Mercer

Mercer won the 1988 United States amateur heavyweight championship while serving in the U.S. Army and compiled an Amateur record of 64-6. He won Gold in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul as a heavyweight.


In March 21, 2007, Cage Fury announced that Mercer had signed to face underground street fighter and Internet legend Kimbo Slice at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on June 23, 2007, as part of Cage Fury Fighting Championship 5. The bout was a non-sanctioned exhibition under the New Jersey Unified MMA rules. Kimbo Slice won the fight in the first round with a guillotine choke submission.


Eric “Butterbean” Esch

Esch began his fighting career on the Toughman Contest scene in Texarkana, Arkansas in the early 1990s and went on to become a five-time World Toughman Heavyweight Champion with a record of 56–5 with 36 knockouts. He received the nickname “Butterbean” when he was forced to go on a diet (consisting mostly of chicken and butterbeans) in order to meet the Toughman 400 pound (181 kg) weight limit. He made his professional boxing debut on October 15, 1994, beating Tim Daniels by decision in Birmingham, Alabama. He soon developed a cult following and became known as “King of the 4 Rounders

Having lost his MMA debut to Genki Sudo, Esch stuck with the sport and regrouped, going 6–0–1 in appearances in King of the Cage, Gracie Fightfest, and Rumble on the Rock which included a TKO stoppage of Wesley “Cabbage” Correira at Rumble on the Rock 8 in Honolulu on January 20, 2006 in a fight which took place under special rules, ground fighting being limited to fifteen seconds per instance regardless of the situation. He returned to Japan with the Pride Fighting Championships on August 26, 2006 to compete at Pride Bushido 12 in Nagoya against Ikuhisa Minowa, a shoot wrestler known for his willingness to face much larger opponents, to whom he lost via armbar submission at 4:25 of round one.


Art Jimmerson

Art Jimmerson is a retired boxer who competed at super middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight. As an amateur, Jimmerson was the 1983 National Golden Gloves Middleweight champion. He finished his boxing career in 2002, with a record of 33–18.

In November 1993, Jimmerson competed at the very first UFC competition, UFC 1. He fought Royce Gracie while wearing only one boxing glove, earning the nickname Art ‘One Glove’ Jimmerson in the process. Since there were no gloves in the first UFC, Art didn’t want to get his jab hand hurt, so he wore a boxing glove in the match on his left hand. Jimmerson lost to Gracie by submission after being taken to the ground and tapping out two minutes into the first round, ending his mixed martial arts career, at which point he returned to boxing.


Ricardo Mayorga

Ricardo Antonio Mayorga Perez (born October 3, 1973), best known as Ricardo Mayorga, is a Nicaraguan professional boxer and former mixed martial artist. In boxing he is a former two-weight world champion, having held the unified WBA (Super), WBC, Ring magazine, and lineal welterweight titles in 2003, and the WBC super welterweight title from 2005 to 2006.

Following his retirement from boxing, Mayorga decided to properly embark on a professional MMA career and faced Wesley Tiffer on May 3, 2013. He was kept on the ground but able to survive round 1. Tiffer continued to grapple with him on the ground until Mayorga landed a controversial and illegal knee to Tiffer’s spine, that of which ultimately heard Tiffer screaming after the blow. Mayorga won via TKO after Tiffer didn’t answer the bell for round 3. The Nicaraguan Mixed Martial Arts Commission declared the fight a No Contest for the illegal knee a week later on May 10, 2013 and also suspended Mayorga for 3 months for being 20 pounds over the contracted weight limit of 165-lbs.


Holly Holm

Holm has held several welterweight boxing titles, been highly regarded as one of the best female welterweights in the world, and is considered among the best of all time, by some. In June 2008 she became the undisputed welterweight champion and holder of belts from 140 to 154 by defeating former champ Mary Jo Sanders by decision.

Holm made her mixed martial arts debut on March 4, 2011. Holm was expected to make her debut at UFC 181 against Raquel Pennington. However, on November 13, Holm was forced to pull out due to an undisclosed injury. The two fighters faced each other at UFC 184. Holm won the bout by split decision (29–28, 28–29, 30–27).




Written by Neilers

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