Michael Bisping has collected fans from all corners and UK MMA fans love to support the local boy as he flies the flag for Britain in the UFC. He stormed to success in The Ultimate Fighter house beating the best America had to offer. He trains with the incredible fighters at The Wolfslair gym including former light heavyweight champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.

Over more than twenty years he has accumulated knowledge of all aspects of MMA from his foundation in kick boxing and jiu-jitsu, he has acquired immaculate Muay Thai and formidable wrestling. So could a boxer with no more than fitness level training in Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu walk into the octagon and knock him out cold? If you ask Enzo Maccarinelli he will tell you no problem.

Maccarinelli has reportedly stated he would beat Bisping in an MMA match and is looking for a switch over from boxing in the future – as reported by Fighters Only Magazine earlier this week.  Such talk has been dismissed by fans and fighters alike but writing him off may be premature given that the current heavy weight champion Brock Lesnar only started MMA training a few short years ago.

The difference is that Brock was a national wrestling champion and above all a unique physical specimen. Throughout the 15 years of MMA and the UFC in particular wrestlers have shown that their chosen speciality works incredibly well in the octagon. Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk and now Brock Lesnar all have wrestling at the core of their game. They are also all former champions or in Lesnar’s case the current champion. The same can not be said for boxing.

The sport of MMA is full of strikers who have dominated their weight class. Anderson Silva rules the middleweight roost with his formidable Muay Thai while Georges St.Pierre’s karate and Muay-Thai see him top the welter weight division.

However, they strike with eight weapons; legs, knees, elbows and fists and they have done from an early age. Enzo may have knock out power in his fists but could he take a leg kick without hobbling? Could he escape the clinch while he is barraged by knees? Probably not.

Fellow boxer David Haye -who destroyed Maccarinelli inside two rounds earlier this year-was angered by  Maccarinelli’s comments branding him foolish for thinking he could switch to MMA so easily.

“”Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts are two completely different disciplines and it would be foolish to expect to switch between the two and dominate. If Enzo Maccarinelli and Michael Bisping were to meet in the Octagon it would be a no contest – Bisping would beat Maccarinelli 10 times out of 10. Michael knows the MMA game inside out, whereas Enzo would be completely new to it.”

Haye who is said to be keen on a switch himself after his boxing career is quick to realise the task that is ahead of him should he choose to pursue his goal later in life. Haye appears to be much more realistic about the dedication and training it would take having sparred with good MMA fighters.

“I’ve rolled around with MMA guys in the past and even use British mixed martial artist James Zikic for sparring and I know how hard it is to fight these guys. They are very physically strong and are very dangerous in the clinch and on the ground. Those are two positions that pro boxers are not used to…If Enzo can’t land that bingo shot right away – and Bisping would be looking for it – he’s likely to get kneed to hell and back or submitted in the blink of an eye. It really is apples and oranges.”

UFC UK president Marshall Zelaznik confirms that talks have been held with Maccarinelli’s representatives but concluded that a move was not wise at this time;

“We were contacted by Enzo’s representatives about the possibility of Enzo moving over. But the UFC is not the place for a novice mixed martial arts fighter…As boxing fans, we would love to one day see Enzo competing in our great sport. But Enzo would really need to focus a lot of energy on the nuances of the MMA ground and striking game before we would ever see that image realised.”

“If you understand the sport of MMA, you understand that any boxer, no matter how good, would not be able to effectively compete in the Octagon. It would be like a world-class sprinter entering the decathlon. “

It’s not impossible to see Enzo make the switch, he is a good athlete and an impressive boxer. However it should be done the right way. Calling out Britain’s best and wanting to join the greatest promotion in MMA straight away is both foolhardy and detrimental to the sport.

There are smaller promotions for a reason and there is no shame in testing the water at one of these smaller, less elite events. Brock Lesnar is an exception to the rule, he brought with him millions of fans from one of America’s biggest attractions, Enzo can hardly claim he could do the same.

He has trained in jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai but only to a limited extent. Thousands of people train in jiu-jitsu and Thai boxing every day, they would not dream they could beat Anderson Silva or Frank Mir. If he is serious about MMA he could become a good fighter with endless practice. If he takes all his opponents as lightly as he seems to take Michael Bisping he will be spend most his time in the cage covering up or tapping.

Kieran Bamford