Can Shaquille O'Neal make it in MMA?
UFC president Dana White recently said that Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal has been training in mixed-martial arts for years -- and lobbying to fight in the Octagon for nearly as long. Could Shaq make a successful career switch? If the history of other pro athlete-to-pro fighter crossovers is any indication, results are impossible to predict:
Too Tall Jones
Day job: Havoc-wreaking defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys.
Fighting career: Semi-respectable. Retired from football to go 6-0 as a heavyweight fighter with five KO's between 1979 and 1980 before retuning to the Cowboys; on the other hand, combined record of Jones' opponents was 37-86-1. And Jones' debut fight was marred by accusations that his corner deployed smelling salts while the fighter was on the ground.
Day job: Heisman Trophy winner; USFL/NFL running back; Olympic bobsledder.
Fighting career: Respectable. At age 47, won MMA debut match against someone named Greg Nagy, showing still-formidable athletic ability and so-so ground fighting skills.
Day job: 15-year career as NBA shooting guard.
Fighting career: Respectable. Currently the 232nd-ranked active heavyweight in the United States; sports a 4-0 record as a professional boxer, including an April TKO of Miles Kelley.
Day job: NFL wide receiver/Matt Millen antagonist.
Fighting career: Disastrous. Was knocked out just 38 seconds into his MMA debut; adding insult to injury, he was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for failing to take a post-fight doping test. The CSAC later revealed that Morton failed a pre-fight steroids screen.
Day job: Hoops Hall of Famer/legendary ladies' man.
Fighting career: Smart. In 1971, Muhammad Ali brought months of public trash-talk and speculation to a head by announcing he would fight the Stilt at the Astrodome -- no, really! -- only to have Astrodome officials call of the bout an hour later.
Manute Bol/Fridge Perry
Day jobs: NBA pipe cleaner; NFL beer keg.
Fighting career: Fought each other in celebrity boxing match. Bol won a three-round decision and donated his purse to Sudanese relief efforts.
Day job: Skyhook maestro; "Airplane!" movie-stealer.
Fighting career: Totally awesome. Fought Bruce Lee. Who cares if he lost?
Day job: MLB pitching washout; World Cup-quality ball-header; vindicated steroids snitch.
Fighting career: In a word, Canseco-nian. Who else can claim losses to a 7-foot-2 Korean kickboxer, former NFL kick returner Vai Sikahema and Danny Bonaduce?
Patrick Hruby is a freelance writer and ESPN.com contributor. Contact him at PatrickHruby.net.