Heavyweight boxer Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) has reportedly expressed interest in competing under mixed martial arts rules inside the Bellator MMA cage.
Chisora, 36, is one of the United Kingdom’s top heavyweight pugilists. Most recently, he stopped David Price in the fourth round of their October 2019 clash, which saw Chisora capture the vacant WBO Intercontinental championship.
On Monday, the one-time WBC title challenger told Insider that “If the fight with [former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr] Usyk is not going to be this year, then I’ll just go do a fight in Bellator.”
Chisora was scheduled to face Usyk on March 11, but the event was postponed due to concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to Chisora, if the fight with Usyk doesn’t materialize, a move to MMA may be likely.
“This is what we’re looking at now; another option so we can get another fight going using Bellator MMA rules,” continued Chisora.
While it is uncommon for a boxer as experienced as Chisora to transition to MMA, it would not be the first time that a boxer moved from the ring to the cage.
Famously, former heavyweight world champion James Toney fought for the UFC in an ill-fated, one-off match against five-time and two-weight UFC champion Randy Couture. Ray Mercer had better luck; the former WBO heavyweight champ defeated ex-UFC titlist Tim Sylvia in his sole MMA fight, knocking Sylvia out in mere seconds.
Holly Holm is a clear example of a boxer-turned-MMA-fighter who achieved great things in both combat sports, capturing multiple titles in boxing before knocking out Ronda Rousey to become the UFC bantamweight champion, and ex-WBO champ Heather Hardy is currently competing for Bellator MMA.
Chisora notes that he intends to transition to MMA regardless of if the Usyk fight takes place.
“I know how to wrestle, things like that,” he told Insider. “I’m chuffed about doing that. [Prominent MMA gym London] Shootfighters… they’ve got [rugby player turned future MMA debutant] James Haskell, they’ve got [viral welterweight standout] Michael ‘Venom’ Page, I’m just excited.”
Chisora continued, “For the last three years, I’ve been training at Shootfighters, wrestling, doing what they do.”
The Zimbabwean-born Brit is managed by Matchroom Boxing, the managerial firm run by Eddie Hearn, one of the sport’s top promoters. Matchroom, which also manages the likes of heavyweight star Anthony Joshua, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, and others, has a streaming rights deal with DAZN.
DAZN, a live sports streaming platform, also currently has a deal in place with Bellator MMA, potentially greasing the wheels for a sport-to-sport transition for Chisora.
“We’ll get a fight done. It will definitely happen, mate.”
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.