With his impenetrable jaw and endless punch volume, Wayne The Pocket Rocket' McCullough featured in some of the most title thrilling boxing bouts in recent memory. After a career spent mixing it up with the likes of Erik Morales and Naseem Hamed without so much as a backward step or splash to the canvas, McCullough knows a thing or two about what makes up the mettle of fighting men.
Wayne still loves his boxing through and through, but along with his passion for the sport that made him famous, he shares an equal and endearing zeal for the booming sport of mixed martial arts.
With the UFC's recent expansion into Europe with shows in Manchester, Belfast and later this year, London, along with ever-increasing popularity of home-grown MMA promotions such as Cage Rage, McCullough will soon play his own official part of the UFC's development on these shores.
Boxing versus MMA? The former WBC bantamweight champion and Olympic silver medallist feels there is little point in choosing, when you can have both.
Here's what Wayne had to say when we spoke earlier this week.
Hi Wayne, tell us a little about your connection with the UFC?
WM: Well, I have known (UFC president) Dana White and (UFC owner) Lorenzo Fertita since 94/95, when Dana was heavily involved in boxing and Lorenzo was part of the Boxing Commission. I did go quite a while without seeing Dana, but we re-acquainted back in 2000 and it was then that he told me he was involved in the sport of MMA. I was glad to see that as he's a guy that works hard, he did when he was involved in boxing, and now he's doing the same for MMA not just in here in the States, but internationally now too. I understand that the crowd in Belfast (for last Saturday's UFC 72 card) was the biggest ever in the Odyssey Arena's history, that's pretty amazing.
Wayne, what specifically will you being doing for the UFC, will you be required to do commentary?
WM: No, not as such, Dana White asked me to get involved with respect of being a European face of things while the UFC expand into Europe. Like I said, he's known me since my boxing days, before I was a champion and afterwards too, and one of the things he told me was that being a world champion never changed me, but like I said to him, why should I change? In truth, his success in MMA hasn't changed him either, though he did use to have hair!
So, are you aware of what will be involved?
WM: No, I was supposed to sit down with the UFC in Belfast (to talk through the details) but in the end, a fight I had in Dublin that weekend fell through, so, as it turned out, I stayed here in the US.
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