Years after reflecting on unfulfilled octagon dreams, Shaquille O’Neal takes a punch and lift from UFC champ

Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most beloved icons in the world of basketball and his NBA career has been just as stellar. Although Shaq has won it all during his tenure in the league, it seems that the NBA icon always wanted to take the octagon and try his hand at a different sport.

Shaq recently met up with Zhang Weili, the first Chinese UFC champion, and even though the two athletes came from completely different sporting backgrounds, shared a fun and surprising moment that quickly became the talk of the town. Years of unfulfilled octagon dreams have finally led Shaquille O’Neal to fulfill his fantasies, and rather in a peaceful encounter.

UFC Champ stuns fans by lifting and punching Shaq

During a meet-up, Shaq and Zhang Weili engaged in a light-hearted exchange that left everyone smiling.

The towering former basketball icon took on a few playful punches from the martial arts queen, showcasing his trademark gentle demeanor and sense of humor.

But what amazed everyone was Zhang was able to lift Shaq above the ground with her bare hands. Despite the significant size difference, the 5’4″ UFC superstar was still able to lift the NBA legend, leaving everyone baffled.

Shaquille O’Neal’s past desires for MMA career

Shaquille O’Neal had been known as a dominant player back in his time who was always ready for challenges, and it seems that O’Neal never stopped seeking new challenges.

In a recent interview, Shaquille O’Neal opened up about his fascination with MMA and his longstanding interest in the sport. He has revealed how he is a huge fan of mixed martial arts and considers UFC president Dana White a friend.

While he has admitted to flirting with the idea of stepping into the octagon during his playing days, it does feel too late for him now. Shaquille O’Neal had also mentioned who he would have loved to get in the Octogan with, naming former NFL guard Bob Sapp and Korean MMA fighter Hong Man Choi towards the end of his NBA career. 

Bob Sapp vs Hong Man Choi
Via That’s Why MMA!

Bob Sapp switched his career from NFL to an MMA fighter and kickboxer in the latter stages of his sporting career and currently holds an MMA record of 12 wins and 20 losses. Whereas for Hong Man Choi, he is an MMA fighter, kickboxer, and wrestler from South Korea who has an MMA record of four wins and five losses, and a kickboxing record of 13 victories and nine defeats.

Shaquille O’Neal’s size, strength, and athletic ability would have undoubtedly made him an interesting addition to the world of MMA. But we will never know if it would work out or not. Nevertheless, his fans appreciate the love and support he has for the sport and whether we will ever see him inside the Octagon arena is a question that can be answered only by time.

Sami Haider

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Sami Haider is an NBA writer at SportsKnot. His foray into basketball scriptwriting started in 2020, when he was enthralled by the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA championship victory. His previous experience was limited to dribbling and dunking as a neighborhood kid. His insightful writings show how much he loves the sport. His writing goes beyond numbers and scores, giving readers a unique viewpoint on the players, teams, and events that define the basketball scene. Whether you're a die-hard fan or a casual observer, Sami's work is essential for anybody trying to expand their knowledge and love of the NBA.


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