Mike Tyson is arguably the most popular fighter of all time. You can go anywhere in the world and mention his name and people will know who you are talking about.
Iron Mike was a vicious knockout artist in the early part of his career. Considered by many to be one of the most vicious Boxers to enter the ring, Tyson is still a fan favorite despite his legal troubles. Fans nearly saw got the chance to see Mike Tyson fight MMA greats Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko CroCop.
How did the brutal slugger nearly come to face two of the MMA world’s greatest legends? Around 2006, after Mike Tyson had retired from Boxing, DSE, the company that owned Japanese MMA promotion Pride FC decided that it would be a good idea to have Mike Tyson on board as they were going to make an attempt to expand their events into the United States.
For anyone that is new to MMA and is not aware of Pride FC, at one point in time it was considered the best MMA promotion in the world. The UFC would eventually purchase Pride FC as the promotion hit some difficult times financially and after rumors of their affiliation with Japanese organized crime surfaced. The rules included stomps and soccer kicks. They also were known for putting on some crazy fights, such as size mismatches and several other oddities.
It was so close to happening.
It makes sense that the heads at Pride FC would think to bring in the retired boxer to draw attention. Unlike the UFC did with James Toney, their idea was not to throw Mike Tyson to the wolves. The plan was to build everything around Tyson.
There were obstacles from the beginning for Pride FC, such as Tyson having a suspended license in the state of Nevada. His rape conviction also created problems for him in Japan. It was reported that his rape conviction kept him from fighting for K-1 in Japan when it was rumored he would be fighting Bob Sapp. That didn’t matter to Pride FC as they had a plan.
They were going to build a world tour with Mike Tyson and go to several countries in Europe as well as China. According to a story by Cage Potato they would then hope that they could the legal troubles in the United States and Japan fixed so that they could end the world tour there.
For those thinking that Mike Tyson would be fighting MMA, you thought wrong. Pride FC would have Mike Tyson box against Pride FC fighters. This included Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko CroCop. They were hoping that after Tyson beat up a few guys they would prove to be decent challenges for Iron Mike.
At the time Fedor and CroCop were two of the best heavyweight in the world.
These could have been the first big fights where high-level MMA fighters stepped into the ring to take on a high-level Boxer. This would have been over ten years before Conor McGregor stepped into the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr. So what happened?
Apparently, Tyson had a contract signed with DSE to fight for Pride FC and the world tour, but he stopped responding and basically went AWOL. He was supposed to have financial penalties tied into his contract if he no-showed fights, but he was supposedly so much in debt that tacking on a few 100,000 dollars to that didn’t matter to Tyson.
No one really knows why Tyson decided to not fight for Pride FC, but it could have really helped out the promotion. About a year later Pride FC was no more. It was bought by the UFC in early 2007 and shut down in late 2007. Who knows how maybe if this world tour with Mike Tyson had gone through they might have been able to stay afloat.
I would have loved to watch Mike Tyson fight both Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko CroCop. The real losers in this situation were definitely the fans.