At the ESPY awards this week, dominant MMA fighter Ronda Rousey won both best fighter and best female athlete. She also took some shots at boxer Floyd Mayweather.
In an interview before the show, Rousey had some choice words for Mayweather, who has been pleaded guilty to multiple charges of domestic violence against women over the years. Rousey wondered “how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once.”
She followed that up with “I’d like to see him pretend to not know who I am now,” a reference to Mayweather having said “I don’t know who he is” in reference to Rousey last year.
The verbal sparring got us thinking: if the two fighters were to get in the ring, who would win?
On the one hand, Mayweather is a man who is both slightly taller and heavier. He has an indisputable advantage from the waist up. On the other, Rousey won an Olympic gold medal in judo and is undefeated in mixed martial arts fights. If she was able to get Mayweather on the ground where he doesn’t have any experience, it could get interesting.
Experts we surveyed were divided about who would win.
Brian Michelino, a coach at Long Island Mixed Martial Arts in New York, a gym that trains several UFC fighters, predicted Rousey’s more diverse skill set would help her defeat Mayweather in an MMA fight. While boxing strictly involves punching, MMA incorporates kicking and grappling techniques designed for fighting on the ground.
“In an MMA fight I’m pretty confident that she would mess him up, especially since Floyd Mayweather does not have grappling experience,” Michelino said.
His comments echoed those of UFC president Dana White, who has said that in a fight with Mayweather, “Ronda would rag doll him.”
Because MMA is about technique as well as pure strength, Michelino says there are women at his gym who beat men all the time.
“Rousey is pretty proficient in boxing,” he said, adding, “When you start adding in punches, kicks, and takedowns, a lot of techniques in boxing lose their power.”
Michelino predicted this would give Rousey the upper hand.
“What’s going to happen is she is going to grab him — she’s going to grab him quick,” Michelino explained.
Michelino also said Rousey’s grappling skills are such that Mayweather would not be able to compete even if he had “a year” to train in martial arts.
“He’s not going to make it up,” Michelino said
All that being said, if it was a pure boxing match, Michelino conceded Mayweather would win handily.
However, some people with pure boxing backgrounds think Michelino and White are wrong.
Sonya Lamonakis, one of the top heavyweight female boxers in the world, told Business Insider, “Floyd Mayweather would knock her out in three seconds. That’s a joke.”
Bruce Silverglade, who owns Brooklyn’s Gleason’s Gym, one of the first in the country to train women, said that “the women are terrific athletes and often better technicians, but there’s a physical difference.”
“The men are too strong for the women,” Silverglade said.
Francisco Liuzzi, who owns the Velvet Gloves boxing gym in Manhattan, laughed when Business Insider presented the theoretical scenario. Both Rousey and Mayweather are near the same height. Mayweather is 5 feet and 8 inches and Rousey is 5 feet and 7 inches. Liuzzi looked at the two of them by weight and speculated that, though Mayweather only has about 10 pounds on Rousey, because men and women have different body fat makeups, the boxer probably has about 30 pounds more of muscle than Rousey does.
Liuzzi predicted that Mayweather could get in trouble if Rousey put him on the ground, but even then, he said the boxer would probably get a hit in and knock her out pretty quickly because Rousey has “never been hit by a man.”
“There’s nothing that’s she’s ever compared to taking a blow like that — I just don’t see how she could withstand it,” explained Liuzzi.
As for a boxing match between the two of them, Liuzzi said it would be an easy win for Mayweather.
“It would be no different from him fighting a random woman on the street,” Liuzzi said.
In spite of this, Liuzzi also wanted it on the record that, even if he thought Mayweather would win, he would be rooting for Rousey.
Though the boxing experts who spoke to Business Insider all said they would expect Mayweather to emerge victorious in a matchup against Rousey, one of the world’s best boxers has made the opposite call. Manny Pacquiao, who fought Mayweather on May 2, has said he believes Rousey would win if the hypothetical bout between her and Mayweather was an MMA fight rather than a boxing match.
“She’s strong and she’s strong enough to beat Floyd Mayweather in MMA,” Pacquiao said.
Prior to emerging as a UFC champion, Rousey was on the US Olympic judo team. Patrick Burris, the Director of Coach Certification and Education for USA Judo, was a two-time Olympian and one of Rousey’s childhood coaches. In a conversation with Business Insider, he said the outcome of a fight between Rousey and Mayweather would “depend on what the rules are.”
“I mean, does Mayweather wear gloves? Does she wear a judo gi? Does Ronda have to wear gloves? Do they do UFC rules?” said Burris. “There’s a whole realm of questions that would truly have to be answered.”
If it was a mixed martial arts fight rather than a boxing match, Burris said Rousey would have a very good shot to win. Burris pointed to a match between boxer James Toney and former UFC champion Randy Couture that took place in 2010 as evidence boxers can be easily overwhelmed by the more diverse repertoire of mixed martial artists. Though Burris said Toney was “not the same calibre” as Mayweather, he pointed out Couture won that fight after “barely one round.”
“I would say, if given certain rules, Ronda would probably beat him. Other rules, Mayweather probably would beat her,” Burris said. “That would be kind of an interesting concept.”
Overall, Burris said the major question is whether Rousey could handle Mayweather’s punches.
“I watched how Ronda has progressed, you know, the thing is, can she take a punch from a man?” said Burris. “A man’s punch is different from a female’s punch.”
If they fought with UFC rules, Burris said Mayweather would need to avoid being grabbed by Rousey.
“I would say this, the only way that she would not be able to get him on the ground is if he kept his distance and just pecked away at her,” said Burris. “If they got in close, she would throw him. I guarantee she would knock him down and, if she got him on the ground, it would be over.”
And even if Mayweather tried to stay away, Burris said Rousey would be able to “kick at him.”
“If they got close enough for her to get her two hands on him, she would beat him,” predicted Burris. “She not only has a chance, if I were a gambling and a betting man, I would put my money on her depending, once again, on the rules.”
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