Forget Mayweather v McGregor… Mike Tyson Had Signed a Deal to Fight Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko Cro-Cop Back in 2006…
‘Iron Mike Tyson’ is one of the most recognizable combat sports athletes of all time. With his tattooed face and penchant for popping up everywhere, from films to movies, he’s become part of pop culture. Even if you don’t follow boxing, you know who he is.
He was also a frighteningly powerful boxer in his prime. He went 37-0 fights unbeaten before eventually getting knocked out in Tokyo by Buster Douglas, and was a unified heavyweight champion with a fist of fury.
Now, this is one of the most curious ‘what if’ stories of the day. The legendary Mike Tyon almost fought in PRIDE FC following his retirement from boxing in 2006. He had actually signed a contract that would have seen him fight the likes of Mirko Cro-Cop and Fedor Emelianenko. Isn’t that crazy?
PRIDE was arguably bigger than the UFC at one point, but the Japanese promotion would eventually be taken over by its US competitor because of its associations with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) and financial difficulties. It’s still famous/notorious for bizarre match-ups, juiced-up fighters, and allowing soccer kicks and other extreme techniques.
Fedor Emelianenko was the king of the PRIDE heavyweight division for a long time. He never crossed over to the UFC, unlike the likes of Mark Hunt, Mirko Cro-Cop, and Josh Barnett, and is widely considered the greatest fighter never to have fought for the promotion.
Well, according to Cage Potato, PRIDE struck a deal with Tyson’s representatives, DSE, to box their best heavyweights including Fedor and Cro-Cop. At the time this would have been absolutely massive. Unfortunately, it never happened. Here’s why:
Long story short, Tyson basically went AWOL and stopped responding to the representatives who had created the contract he signed. He was massively in debt at the time, so nobody knows why he didn’t want to take the fights.
It’s also interesting to note that although PRIDE was a Japanese promotion, they wanted to have the fights in the US because Tyson’s rape conviction prevented him from traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun. They were hoping to smash their way into the US market.
Obviously, it didn’t go ahead. A year later, PRIDE would be bought by the UFC and then totally shut down. Now imagine how the 2006 equivalent of Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor could have changed the way we watch the sport today. It’s crazy to think, but MMA as we know it could be in a totally different place.
For all we know, the likes of Fedor and Cro-Cop could be massive mainstream stars, as opposed to being MMA stars. PRIDE might still exist. The world of combat sports is an unforgiving place.