Many gifted athletes have found a home with MMA by crossing over from various sports. MMA has proven to be an exciting alternative for athletes looking to make a change. Many high-profile sports have seen their ranks lose competitors to the calling of this rapidly growing sport.
With all the crossover type athletes dipping their toes in the waters of MMA, and the success some of them have found, it was only a matter of time before big names started to trickle over. The biggest catch for the sport has to be Brock Lesnar. Lesnar has rewritten the heavyweight story in the UFC and found himself standing high atop the mountain as the most successful transplant of all.
The foundation for Brock's success story was built on what he brought to the table when he arrived at MMA's doorstep. He already had a strong tool set to build on in the realm of combat sports, being world-class wrester with the strength that accompanies that type of talent. It was his ace in the hole as an aspiring mixed martial artist.
Another very exciting, more recent crossover addition to the MMA family is world-class pugilist and world-renowned warrior Ricardo Mayorga. Mayorga has been signed by Florida-based upstart promoter Shine Fights. Shine has landed a very game fighter with a style that offers a high ceiling within the sport.
Like Lesnar, Mayorga steps up to the plate and immediately brings to the table with him a world-class talent in combat sports. His boxing and warrior's heart, honed throughout a 16-year ring career, is what will set him apart from many other competitors.
Mayorga's resume in the boxing realm is nothing short of astonishing. Names like Forrest, Trinidad, Mosley, De La Hoya, and Vargas are household names in the world of boxing. Mayorga has thown hands with them all.
Successful in some cases, unsuccessful in others, regardless, he has been forged in the fires of combat with some of the best boxers in the world. He has held multiple titles in various weight classes. He has the heart, desire and grit of a champion.
MMA watch out.
Shine Fights matchmaker Ron Foster was kind enough to share his thoughts and a little inside perspective on Mayorga's transition to MMA and his character as a warrior. He shared his take on what fight fans may be in store for with this one-of-a-kind fighter.
"Ricardo, he's a very very interesting guy. You have guys like Ray Mercer and Herschel Walker switching from different sports to MMA, but I think we have the most compelling one," states Foster. "Mayorga is still in his mid-thirties, he has fought consistently the best fighters in the world. He's never been the most technical boxer. People always look at him and say this guy's a wild man he's a brawler, blah blah blah. I think with that mentality, that hard-nosed style that MMA is going to fit him just fine."
Mayorga is confident about the transition. Foster shared this perspective on Mayorga's thoughts: "Talking to Mayorga, he says he thinks MMA is going to be easier because less rules, he can throw elbows, knee people in the face. In his mind, he thinks he's a champion. He's taking it very seriously. He's not overlooking anybody."
Foster didn't stop there: "As a matter of fact, we thought it made sense to give him a tune-up fight, you know maybe against another guy making a pro debut. His exact words to us were if it's not a name MMA guy I'm not going to fight him. I've always fought the best, I've fought the best boxers in the world, so I want to you give me the toughest MMA fighter you can give me. In his mind, he is going to knock him out."
Foster explained he gets emails from all over the world from fighters who want a crack at the former boxer. Foster is happy to facilitate those requests, but only one man can be the one. He hints that whoever it may be will more than likely have their hands full.
"It's going to be interesting because egos will clash," Foster said, "and there's a lot of people out there that think their stand-up is just as good as a pro boxers stand up and some guys are going to get their chance. If they try to stand and box with him I think someone is going to get knocked out."
For a fighter who has only known one thing his entire life, the transition to a sport that leads him from four points of contact to sixteen -- also throw in takedowns -- Mayorga has a lot on his plate preparing for his first fight.
On the differences Mayorga is preparing for, Foster was frank: "I know he is training, he's taking it very seriously. He's working a lot on his cardio because boxing cardio is a little bit different than MMA cardio. Number one, there are five-minute rounds, in boxing there are three-minute rounds.
"And now you've got to worry about kicks and elbows, being taken to the ground. So that cardio aspect is going to be a lot different. He has started working on the ground a little bit, too."
Foster is confident in Mayorga's preparation, which is important for a matchmaker. "Without releasing too much information, you know the guy is taking it seriously and he will be ready," Foster said. "He does understand this is a mixed martial arts fight so there is a possibility of his opponent taking him to the ground. He understands that and has prepared properly for that."
Shine looks to have Mayorga make his debut in 2010. There are rumblings as to who his opponent might be, but Foster made no confirmation as such. Regardless, whoever it may wind up being, they had best not just prepare for a fighter making his pro MMA debut, they had best prepare for a warrior who knows combat, a fighter who knows how it feels to put another man away, they had best prepare for a champion with the heart of a lion.
Otherwise they are selling their chance of victory short, and increasing the odds that they are made an example of by a man who is no stranger to inflicting pain and walking through obstacles that would make most fighters cringe. Mayorga is an extremely dangerous wild card -- one that Shine is fortunate to have on board.