Mike Tyson ‘was offered no holds barred UFC deathmatch’ – and boxer accepted

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Mike Tyson was once challenged to a superfight by UFC legend Royce Gracie in a bid to see who was the Baddest Man on the Planet.

When Iron Mike was preparing for a return to the ring back in 1993, Brazilian MMA hero Gracie was one of the biggest stars in the octagon-based new promotion.

Gracie’s desire to beat the very best saw him make an offer to the former heavyweight champion, who he thought to be very beatable despite his obvious power and skill.

In a new memoir written by Fiaz Rafiq, To The Top: Enter the Octagon, the Ring and Entertainment, the tale of the failed negotiations have been revealed in detail.

Rafiq wrote: “For Royce, any fight was a matter of who could implement their own strategy, and much of the Gracie style was developed to avoid even the chance of their opponent landing a lucky punch.

“What Royce lacked in brute force, he clearly made up for in technical skill, as his opponents – including a professional boxer – quickly discovered.

“‘There’s only one way to find out,’ he told me, as a smirk crept across his face followed by loud laughter. Sadly for posterity, Tyson declined.”

Before adding: “In Iron Mike’s case, one rejection wasn’t enough for Royce.

“In 1997 the Gracie’s challenge made the headlines again, after the publication of a one-page advert in Men’s Health in America, in which the UFC champion once again challenged the former heavyweight boxer ‘officially’. Anywhere, anytime, no rules!

“Years later I asked Royce about the famous challenge, and discovered that the heavyweight had been, at least in theory, willing to put up.

“‘I heard that my brother tried to bring him in [to UFC],’ Royce explained. ‘He had accepted but people around him – the lawyers, managers, and the Commission – said no way, because boxing had too much to lose.

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  • “But he had accepted and he wanted to do it. I talked to him before and he’s like, ‘I’d love to try this stuff out, man’.

    “But people around him did not allow him to do it. If he lost a fight, if it happened, well, boxing was already in the decline in America so it wouldn’t be good for boxing’.”

    To The Top: Enter the Octagon, The Ring and Entertainment (Pitch) is available in bookstores in hardback and Amazon link here.

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    • Mike Tyson
    • UFC

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