Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Deron Williams is a big MMA fan, something he detailed on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on Monday. On the show, he said he’d rather watch a UFC card than a basketball game and said he plans to compete in competitive jiu-jitsu tournaments once he retires from the NBA.
"I'm gonna do some [jiu-jitsu] tournaments for sure," Williams said. "I'll probably have to [wait until retirement]; it would probably be the smartest thing to do. I do mostly no-gi; I've done some gi, [but] it's just a little too slow-paced for me right now."
Williams was a high school wrester before giving up the sport to focus on basketball. But he told Helwani that being a wrestler helped lead him to MMA.
“I've been watching [MMA] for a while, just growing up being a wrestler," Williams, who listed former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson as his favorite fighters. "As the years have gone on, I ended up meeting different UFC fighters and befriending a couple and really got into it because of that. I just have a love for the sport; I train as well, so I think that brings me even closer.”
Williams even owns his own MMA gym in his hometown of Dallas, Fortis MMA. This past week at UFC 211 in Dallas, heavyweight Rashad Coulter represented Fortis MMA on the card, but lost by knockout to Chase Sherman. Coulter, though, did pick up a $50,000 bonus for the fight.
On the same card, Cleveland native Stipe Miocic retained his heavyweight title with a first round KO of Junior dos Santos. Williams wanted to attend the card, but couldn’t because the Cavs practiced Saturday and then early Sunday morning on Mother’s Day — making traveling to Dallas for the fights unrealistic.
Perhaps if Williams re-signs with the Cavs this summer — and the UFC books Miocic’s next fight at Quicken Loans Arena — Williams could rep the team at the event. The last time the UFC was in Cleveland was last September at UFC 203 with Miocic and another Cleveland-based fighter, bantamweight Jessica Eye, giving the card local flavor. Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen was the only Cav in attendance.
You can watch the full episode of the MMA Hour below. Williams’ interview starts at the the 3:19:07 mark.