Comparisons between professional hockey players and mixed martial artists aren’t often made, but there are more similarities among the top five UFC fighters and current NHLers than you might realize.
Can you envision Conor McGregor or Daniel Cormier strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the open ice? Nor can I.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t share some skills and character traits of prominent NHLers.
Altogether dubious of their skating abilities, I’m going to focus on attributes that are necessary, transferrable and advantageous assets across both sports from the top five pound-for-pound fighters. The fighter rankings are provided by UFC.ca
5. Daniel Cormier would be Jarome Iginla
Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and free agent Jarome Iginla share numerous commonalities: both, at one time or another, were at the peak of their sports.
Unlike Iginla, Cormier is still at the top of his sport, looking ahead to defending his title against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220 on Jan. 20. However, that could change in the blink of an eye if the Swiss challenger upends Cormier in Boston on Saturday. The pair of powerhouses are of almost identical builds, with Iginla two inches taller and five pounds heavier than Cormier.
They are highly respected in their respective sports, both of whom usually avoid running their mouths, preferring their skills do the talking. The wily veterans are only two years apart, with Iginla, 40, two years Cormier’s elder.
And both have represented their nation at the Olympics. More forebodingly, If Cormier loses his belt on Saturday, his career, like Iginla’s, will take a downward turn.
4. Max Holloway would be Patrick Kane
American idols – please, excuse the pun – Patrick Kane and Max Holloway are dominant forces in their corresponding sports. Both are relentless in attack and lethal finishers.
Kane has won three Stanley Cups and Holloway is the undisputed featherweight champion. They share the same height and are ranked first in their specific fields: Kane sits atop EA’s NHL 2018 right winger rankings, while Holloway, until March at the very soonest, rests on his pedestal as the featherweight’s apex predator.
3. Georges St-Pierre would be Sidney Crosby
Two of the most decorated Canadian athletes, Sidney Crosby and Georges St-Pierre are idolized and lionized in the Great White North. Crosby has won three Stanley Cups with the Penguins and two Olympic golds, while St-Pierre is one of the only UFC fighters to win belts in different weight classes. St-Pierre is unbeaten in 13 bouts and Crosby has won back-to-back Stanley Cups.
Physically, there’s not too much to choose between the two legends. Crosby weighs 15 pounds more than St-Pierre while both are 5 ft 11 in.
While St-Pierre’s nickname is Captain Canada, Crosby is Canada’s captain. The uncanny list of similarities doesn’t end there, as both superstars have been plagued by a litany of injuries throughout their illustrious careers.
Finally, they way they present themselves maybe their most impressive shared trait. True ambassadors of their respective sports, the venerable duo are well spoken, humble and forever respectful, the polar opposite of the following featured pair.
2. Conor McGregor would be Brad Marchand
The bad boys of both sports certainly know how to backup their bellicose trash talking. Conor McGregor and Brad Marchand have reached the pinnacle of their sports, and both are controversial figures who draw a large, cult following.
Marchand has won the Stanley Cup and Olympics; McGregor is the only UFC fighter to hold two titles, featherweight and lightweight, simultaneously. The polarizing stars stand at 5 ft 9 in, and both are 29 years old. And it goes without saying that The Notorious and The Nose Face Killah love an old fashioned, no-holds-barred street brawl.
1. Demetrious Johnson would be Johnny Gaudreau
Despite defending his flyweight title a record 11 times, the top ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC is under hyped, still fighting under the radar. He is indisputably the most talented fighter in the UFC, continuously showcasing his exceptional agility, quickness, creativity and technique.
All of the aforementioned attributes apply to Johnny Gaudreau, who plies his trade for the Calgary Flames. The diminutive left winger certainly hasn’t enjoyed the unparalleled success of his UFC counterpart, but Johnny Hockey is blessed with a comparably impressive skill set.
The 24-year-old is also undervalued, but that’s slowly changing as Gaudreau’s unique, highlight-reel playing style can only be passed over for so long. Sound like a certain UFC flyweight champion?
(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Nightlife)