Combat Sports

The 10 Biggest What-Ifs in Mixed Martial Arts

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What-ifs have long been a part of combat sports, and MMA is no different.

Fantasizing about dream bouts and fighters scrapping for different promotions is something we crave. The MMA community even thrives on these fighting daydreams. We use it to fuel conversations with our fellow fight loving fans as we debate who could’ve fought who and in what promotion. The possibilities are truly endless, but we’ve narrowed the list down to ten of the biggest what-ifs in mixed martial arts.

10: James Vick Actually Used His Reach

James Vick (13-6) began his pro career in 2011, where he went on an incredible run. The ‘Texecutioner’ won nine straight, before losing to Beniel Dariush at UFC 199. James was absolutely massive for the lightweight division. Standing 6’3″ tall, and weighing in at 155lbs is unheard of. The what-if for Vick comes into play with his 76″ reach. An advantage that James had over almost every opponent he faced. The question is, what if Vick properly used his reach advantage? He could have been virtually unstoppable with such a weapon at lightweight.

9: Jorge Masvidal Never Landed the Perfect Knee

Jorge Masvidal (35-16) shocked the world when he ended Ben Askren (19-2) in mere seconds at UFC 239. What if that perfectly placed knee never landed? It’s something that many fight fans have had run through their minds at one point, and it’s a good fantasy debate.

How would the scrap against Askren have played out? Chances are ‘Funky’ would have secured the takedown at some point, but would Masvidal get back up? Would Askren even be able to withstand a punch from the powerful ‘Gamebred’? History was made that night, yet there’s still so many questions left unanswered.

8: Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather

When Conor McGregor (22-6 MMA) fought the undefeated Floyd Mayweather in 2017, there weren’t many that gave the Irishman a chance. Probably for a good reason, considering his elite opponent, and the fact that it wasn’t mixed martial arts.

Although McGregor did better than expected, the referee was forced to stop the contest in the 10th round. What if the ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor had beaten Mayweather? It’s a question that many in the MMA community have thought about. Had he shocked the world that night, would we have seen him back in the Octagon at all? With the offers that would’ve come in for him to box, it’s hard to imagine him turning them down in lieu of MMA pay.

7: Khabib and Tony Actually Fought

Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) vs Tony Ferguson (25-6) was the fight that was never destined to happen.

The two were scheduled to face each other inside the Octagon a total of five separate times. The scrap between the Khabib and Tony never materialized, and the MMA fan base was left wondering what would’ve happened. To this day ‘El Cucuy’ is still chapped that he never got his shot at Nurmagomedov.\

6: A Healthy Cain Velasquez

Cain Velasquez (14-3) was an absolute monster in the UFC’s heavyweight division. He made his promotional debut in 2008, where he went undefeated in 7 straight, before falling to the hands of Junior Dos Santos in 2011.

Cain went 12-3 during his time with the promotion, and to this day remains a fan favorite worldwide. He was dominant, violent and easy to cheer for. Unfortunately Velasquez suffered from bone spurs in his back. What would’ve happened had Cain stayed healthy? It’s a question many have pondered throughout the years.

5: Griffin vs. Bonner Was Boring

Forrest Griffin (19-7) and Stephan Bonnar (15-9) went toe-to-toe in an all out war during the first Ultimate Fighter season finale.

The now classic bout served as the main event of the evening, and it was pure gold for the UFC. It couldn’t have gone better for the promotion, but have you ever wonder what the sport would be like now, had the two put on a boring performance? What if the fight ended early in the first round, and we never got to witness the exhilarating war between the two combatants?

Would we even still have the UFC without this fight? Nobody really knows the answer, which makes it such an intriguing what-if.

4: A Healthy Shane Carwin

Shane Carwin (12-2) started his professional MMA journey 2005. The monster of a man put together a mind blowing 12 straight victories, and appeared to be unstoppable. That was until Carwin met Brock Lesnar at UFC 116 in 2010.

Sadly that was the beginning of the end for Shane, as he only fought one more time. After a loss to Junior Dos Santos at UFC 131, Carwin called it a career. The combination of back, neck and knee injuries forced the ‘Engineer’ to bow out of the MMA world. Unfortunately, we’ll never know what could have been.

3: Fedor in the UFC

Fedor Emelianenko (40-6) is a household name among many mixed martial arts fans. Fedor is widely regarded as one of the greatest the sport has ever seen, and rightfully so.

Emelianenko’s forty victories is no joke, as he fought for almost all the major promotions. All, but one of course, as Fedor never fought for the world’s top MMA promotion. The fact that he hasn’t fought top competition in the UFC is always a hot topic. Does he still qualify for GOAT status? More importantly, what would Fedor look like in the UFC? All questions that bounce around the mind of an MMA fan.

2: GOAT vs GOAT

Georges St. Pierre (26-2) vs. Anderson Silva (34-11) is a dream bout that never became reality. Fans around the globe begged and pleaded for this match, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

The two legends going head to head to determine the greatest of all time is a wet dream for most fight fans. It’s a scrap that should’ve happened, but ultimately never became reality. Both living legends are now retired from MMA competition, so it’s one we’ll forever be left wondering about.

1: TJ Grant

Canadian fighter TJ Grant (21-5) was on fire in 2013. He’d just beaten Gray Maynard (13-7-1), and was on his way to a shot at the title. Grant was up and down during his welterweight run, but to this day remains undefeated at lightweight.

Five wins in a row, with three finishes put TJ in line to face Benson Henderson (29-11). Grant had secured his shot at the strap, and it appeared Canada had another superstar in the making. The fight never materialized due to Grant recovering from a severe concussion sustained in training.

Weeks turned into months, months to years, and we would never see TJ Grant compete again. Would he have been able to get past Benson and become champ? How many times would he defend? Honestly, the questions go on and on when discussing TJ. Questions we’ll never receive answers to, as Grant is officially retired.

What’s your number one what-if in mixed martial arts? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images

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