Shaquille O'Neal, an NBA legend with a penchant for mixed martial arts, is on the edge of his seat as the much-anticipated rematch between Jake Paul and Nate Diaz inches closer. Scheduled for December 15, the buzz surrounding the fight is palpable, not just within the MMA community but also among prominent figures in other sports.
Over the years, O'Neal's enthusiasm for MMA has never been a secret. He's consistently championed the sport since 1996, celebrating its unique blend of discipline, skill, and physicality. With a legacy that spans over two decades, his admiration for fighters who grace the octagon is genuine.
Anticipation Builds for Rematch
Both Paul and Diaz have kept a relatively low profile since their August showdown, a contest that saw Paul triumph with a unanimous decision. News of their rematch created waves in the sports community, with Paul previously hinting at a return on the specified date but keeping fans in suspense regarding his opponent.
Diaz took the initiative, dropping a promotional poster on Instagram and X (previously Twitter), firing up the fanbase. Amidst this hype, O'Neal was quick to express his excitement through an Instagram story, rekindling conversations about his respect for MMA.
For someone who reigned supreme in the NBA, clinching three titles with the LA Lakers and another with the Miami Heat, his admiration for MMA often comes as a surprise to many. Discussing the sport's challenges, O'Neal had once remarked, "MMA is undoubtedly the toughest.
Unlike football where you get breaks, in MMA, fighters grapple for 3 to 5 minutes without respite, all while dodging punches and chokes." A sentiment he reiterated in his documentary 'Shaq', which delves deep into his passion for the sport and how its disciplines fortified his basketball career.
While O'Neal's dalliance with MMA training is commendable, it's worth considering if today's NBA centers might benefit from the rigorous training that MMA offers. As the Paul-Diaz rematch approaches, all eyes, including those of the basketball legend, will be fixated on the octagon.