The NBA has had some famous scraps, Shaq and Charles Barkley, Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson, Bill Laimbeer and the Celtics, Piston fans and Metta World Peace. Even Nate Robinson’s recent boxing match against YouTuber Jake Paul has combined the world of combat sports and the NBA. For former NBA guard Deron Williams, combat sports, specifically MMA, both are his world.
Williams wrestled before high school, winning 2 Texas state titles at the age of 8 and 12. The three-time All-Star even sparred during his final years in the NBA, albeit going easy to make sure he did not get injured over the course of the season.
Since leaving the league in 2017, Williams has been fighting much harder. As a partial owner of an MMA gym, MMA Fortis, Williams has become a part of the UFC world. Williams’ business partner and close friend Sayif Saud have coached some of the top 15 ranked UFC welterweight, middleweight, and light heavyweight fighters.
Williams personally assists with sparring and training in addition to owning the gym. Helping young fighters develop has become a passion for the two-time Olympic gold medalist.
“There’s kids in our gym right now that are amateurs, haven’t even fought amateur fights yet… I’m going to get to see them grow from that and hopefully have a chance to fight for a belt one day. You never know.”
Williams played in the NBA for 12 years for the Utah Jazz, New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He averaged 16.3 points, 8.1 assists on 44.5% shooting over his career.