First it was Royce White, now it’s Teejay Britton. Who’s next to make his move to the cage, and what’s with the sudden rush of basketball players to MMA?
To be fair to Britton, he’s more of an all-around athlete than simply a basketball player turned fighter. In addition to being the biggest size mismatch in MMA, Britton played plenty of overseas basketball and was an All-American in track & field.
There’s always been a healthy crossover between MMA and football, but what does Britton think is behind the hardwood to cage transition he feels is on the rise?
“The majority of high-level basketball players, they’re competitive,” Britton said. “In basketball, we can get physical, but not as much. I was a point guard, but I was physical. To be able to continue to do that and be that is kind of cool.”
Britton understands that although he’s 7-2 and been in plenty of fights in his day, he still isn’t seen as the favorite some of the time. Despite his 6’4” featherweight frame, “Bad Newz” can’t compare his time in the sport to lifelong martial artists, but his time on the court wasn’t a waste of good MMA years.
He noticed that on top of his height and reach, some of the necessary agility to play professional basketball made Britton’s adjustment from shooting to striking smooth as silk.
“I think the footwork in basketball translates right over to basketball,” Britton said. “When I came over to MMA and I got to doing boxing, that stuff just worked for me. Coaches would always tell me it was just second nature to me and that it looked like I’ve been at this a long time.”
Since gliding through the basics of striking, Britton’s mindset has always been that strength and athleticism are good things to have, but they only take you so far if you’re fighting somebody else who has the same attributes. So there’s got to be killer instinct and footwork to set you apart from every other big, strong guy.
Team sports vs combat sports are obviously hard to compare. Experiences will almost never translate, but from what Britton says, if every basketball player knew what it felt like to finish an opponent, there would be even more basketball players turning into fighters.
“The physicality of MMA, I just love it,” Britton said. “There’s nothing like it. So many people talk about doing it, but very few actually do it at a high, competitive level, so I love to stand out from people and be set apart. That’s what I love to do and that’s what I’m doing.”
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