NBA

If NBA Players were UFC Welterweights

Read Time:8 Minute, 7 Second

The 2024 NBA Playoffs might be the most exciting in years because there might finally be a changing of the guard. Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warriors did not make it past the play-in game. The two leaders of this generation, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, lost in the first round of the playoffs. The players leading the headlines are now Nikola Jokic, Anthony Edwards, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The new generation is finally here.

Similarly, the UFC welterweight division had a changing of the guard in 2022 when Leon Edwards brutally knocked out long-reigning champion Kamaru Usman to win the title at UFC 278. Recently, rising contenders have emerged that all seriously threaten Edwards’ throne. From undefeated finishers to gritty tacticians, many future title challengers have emerged. Since the division could be turning upside down like the NBA has, let’s take a dive into which NBA stars the UFC welterweights resemble the most.

(Champion) Leon Edwards: Nikola Jokic

Neither of these guys say much. They both just win. Edwards and Nikola Jokic like avoiding the spotlight despite performing their best under it. Both are at the top of their thrones, as Jokic and his Denver Nuggets won last year’s NBA Championship while beating LeBron James and the Lakers in the last two playoffs. This resembles Leon Edwards avenging a prior defeat and deficit against long-reigning champion Kamaru Usman to knock him out in the final minute of their fight at UFC 278. He followed it up with his best performance to date by edging a decision in their trilogy at UFC 286.

Stylistically, both Jokic and Edwards use their reach as effectively as anyone in the game. Jokic’s hook shots are extremely accurate, as is his passing game. Edwards, on the other hand, is known for his devastating left head kick and for picking his opponents apart from the outside range.

Hilariously, regarding trash talk, both rely on their brothers for that. Leon’s younger brother Fabian is a top Bellator middleweight contender, always advocating for his brother’s success. On the other hand, the soft-spoken Jokic has two brothers, Strahinja and Nemanja, who are the loudest people in the arena for any Nuggets games. They sometimes fight fans in defense of their younger brother. It is intriguing to see how long both Edwards and Jokic will continue their championship runs, as both are in their primes.

(#1) Kamaru Usman: LeBron James

When the term GOAT comes up, these guys will forever be in the conversation. Unfortunately, they will never be considered the unanimous GOAT, as they will both face comparisons to 6x NBA Champion Michael Jordan and 11x UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre. Professionally, James is a 4x NBA Champion, 20x All-Star, 4x MVP, 4x finals MVP, and more. During his time on the Miami Heat, he was a near-unstoppable force with all-star teams of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to train with. As for Usman, he had 5 UFC welterweight title defenses and won his first 15 fights in the promotion. Not only did he dominate, he also lapped the contenders in his division. In that winning stretch, he was not taken down a single time. His all-star training partners consist of Justin Gaethje and Rose Namajunas.

Even when both are out of their primes in their late thirties, both men are still a threat to everyone in their respective sports. James is averaging 25 points per game and is constantly leading the Lakers to the playoffs, while Usman nearly beat the undefeated star Khamzat Chimaev on 10 days notice. Both are still near the pinnacles of their sport and are defying odds with their physique. It would not be a shock if either hoist gold again.

Fatherhood & Podcasts

In terms of family, James is a proud father of 3 beautiful children and routinely attends their games. Usman spends much time helping his daughter and her homework, bringing her to high-profile UFC events to experience life with him. Both are model fathers who always put their families first. Next year, James could be playing alongside his son, Bronny. On the other hand, Usman accomplished the feat of coaching his brother Mohammed into the UFC and as a winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 31.

Lastly, both legends are wise beyond their years, socially and athletically. James recently launched a podcast with NBA veteran JJ Reddick to discuss intricacies and strategies within the game. Correspondingly, Usman launched the “Pound for Pound” podcast with former double champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo. Unsurprisingly, both podcasts have made headlines and have gone viral several times. Both legends belong in their sport’s hall of fames and are some of the most impactful humans ever to grace the earth.

(#2) Belal Muhammad: Jrue Holiday

If the Most Underrated Athlete Award existed in the NBA and MMA, it would belong to Jrue Holiday and Belal Muhammad. Neither are the most physically gifted athletes. But, both bring a ginormous value.

Skill for skill, Jrue Holiday has some of the best defense and passing in the NBA. Even if he does not average 25 points per game, others feel his presence on the court every moment. The 3x All-Defensive NBA First Team member started playing his best basketball in his thirties, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship in 2021. Today, people wonder why the Celtics went 64-18 this regular season. A big part of that is Holiday’s impact on the team. Holiday’s defensive schemes and playmaking ability often leave players confused and helpless.

An Amazing Run

Similarly, Belal Muhammad is one of the smallest UFC welterweights. He is not super explosive and is not the best at everything. But, he might be the best at mixing up. He is on a ridiculous 10-fight unbeaten streak and has lost only once in the last 6 years. In every single fight, he showcases a new skill and leaves his opponents off balance and confused. This includes 5 straight wins within the top 10, with 3 being in the top 5. This includes defending over 20 takedown attempts from the best grappler in the division, Demian Maia, and earning a 30-25 scorecard in a massacre of the best striker in the division, Stephen Thompson. He followed that up with a dominating performance, out-striking and landing 5 takedowns on arguably the best finisher in the division at the time, Vicente Luque, who knocked him out in 2016. After that, he stole undefeated prospect Sean Brady’s 0 by knocking him out and then dominated Gilbert Burns on a short notice five-round fight for the number one contender spot.

Also, Jamahal Hill credited Muhammad for his game planning advice when he beat Glover Teixeira to win the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 283. Not only is Muhammad one of the trickiest guys to fight, he’s also got the best fight IQ in the game and will make a great coach one day. Hopefully, he will have his long-awaited and well-deserved title shot announced for UFC 304.

(#3) Shavkat Rakhmonov: Anthony Edwards

Who are two young, flashy, well-rounded athletes? We are about to find out how good they are. Anthony Edwards and Shavkat Rakhmonov are the only correct answers.

Edwards is 22 years young and has led the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 3 seed and into the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs. They are currently taking on the defending champions, the Denver Nuggets. Edwards’ shooting has improved immensely, and he plays both sides of the floor with immaculate defense. He goes toe-to-toe with the biggest stars and even trash-talked Kevin Durant out of the playoffs in the first round. The rising NBA superstar hit the infamous D-Generation X crotch gesture in game 3 of their series. Over the next month, we will find out if Edwards is indeed “Him” and a championship-caliber player. He has all the skills to be considered one of the greats in 10 years.

Correspondingly, MMA’s flashy killer is Shavkat Rakhmonov. He is 18-0 with all finishes, including 8 knockouts and 10 submissions. He has beaten some of the division’s most dangerous, Geoff Neal and Stephen Thompson. The well-rounded Kazakh has the aura and is willing to bang with anyone as he did with hard-hitting Neal. His next fight will either be a number one contender bout or a title shot. He is a top fighter, and we will soon know if he is worthy of being world champion.

If there are two people who represent the future of the NBA and the UFC, it’s these two.

(Wild Card) James Krause: Jontay Porter

Recently, former Toronto Raptors Center, Jontay Porter, was given a lifetime ban from the NBA. Why? He gambled against his statistics and allegedly disclosed confidential health information to bettors. He’s the younger brother of Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr.

On the other hand, former UFC welterweight James Krause boasted a 9-4 UFC record and was a high-level UFC coach. He previously owned Glory MMA & Fitness and helped top fighters gameplan for fights. Before his license was revoked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Krause publicly bragged about making money off sports betting. This reached a boiling point when the UFC stopped allowing fighters under Krause to compete in their organization. The investigation is ongoing, but the likelihood is that Krause’s days in combat sports are over.

Do you agree with these comparisons? Which other fighters do you think compare to NBA players? Let us know in the comments below.

About Post Author

Anik Subramanian

Anik Subramanian is a United States based journalist who fell in love with mixed martial arts when it was the first sport to return during the pandemic. He also sheds light on the warriors who enter the BKFC's squared circle. You may know Anik as a journalist for FightBook MMA. Follow his X & Instagram accounts linked below.
Happy
Happy
33 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
67 %

About Post Author

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

2 thoughts on “If NBA Players were UFC Welterweights

Leave a Reply

Swerve Previous post The Coronation of Swerve & The Consequences of His Past
Chase Hooper Next post Chase Hooper is preparing for fatherhood ahead of UFC St. Louis