Boxing vs MMA
Recently, psycho asked what boxer's think of MMA in the forums. I've moved the conversation here to get more opinions. I'm actually surprised it took this long for this topic to come up. Every other boxing site I've been to eventually gets into this debate.
On the one hand, you have the purist boxers who are completely against MMA.
On the other are the MMA fanatics who believe boxing has gone the way of the dodo.
And somewhere in the middle are the people who see them for what they are. Two completely different sports, both of which could learn a thing from the other.
Randy Couture: See what a top MMA has
to say about the debate
Boxing actually evolved out of something a lot closer to UFC type fights than the average boxing fan would be willing to admit. Gloves were an innovation. In the beginning, fights that lasted entire days and the bloodfest resulting from leather wrapped hands were the norm. Boxing since has been civilized. When UFC first came out, I believe it was the shock value that caused people to watch. It took the characters from WWF and threw reality into the equation. The result was comical at best. Since then, it has come a long way in regulating the sport and turning it into a real contender in terms of ratings and economics. This is due in large part to a hugely effective marketing plan.
Boxing has stagnated in that regard. The problem I see is that boxing lacks the lustre and character present in the UFC. Personally, the characters in UFC which are no more than a reinvention of what the WWF provides, seem to take away from the sport, but that's just me. From a business perspective, it is a goldmine. They took the best of the WWF and added in the thing it lacked -- the actual fight. How can a WWF fan not love watching the UFC - it's like the WWF on steroids. And, like it or not, UFC is hot. It is growing exponentially, and it is because of the characters involved.
Boxing lacks those characters. What happens when Floyd Mayweather Jr, Oscar De La Hoya, and Bernard Hopkins disappear? What happens when Klitschko or Hatton hang up the gloves? Can Hollyfield's comeback sustain boxing? There are very few matchups that can draw the big crowds and pay per view revenues, and it is the lack of showboating that keeps boxing out of the limelight. The boxers are all too similar. The names we remember are the ones who distinguish themselves from the pack in some regard, and relying on an undefeated record won't necessarily do it, unless you are dedicated boxing fan. The masses remember the character, not the statistics. Tyson, like him or not, is a household name. He distinguished himself twice -- once as a boxing superstar and then his most recent reincarnation.
UFC on the other hand, has lively characters, costumes and outrageous entrances. Their fighters are the superheros kids will trade trading cards of. And the blood is an added bonus. The perceived brutality of the "no holds barred" fighting seems wholly uncivilized to a boxing purist when in reality UFC and MMA in general has fewer serious injuries than boxing. It seems one slamming concussive punch that draws blood or knocks out teeth is actually better for you than repeated concussive blows to the head (especially in later rounds when you are dehydrated). UFC has yet to count a fatality while boxing adds a few to the list every year.
As a boxer, I think our sport can learn a lot from the UFC and MMA, especially in terms of making it more appealing to a new generation brought up on video games and superheroes. Everyone likes the dramatic and the story behind the fighter. I have no doubt that the fighters in MMA are as athletic and as dedicated to their sport as boxers. I've done some MMA and know the same principles of battle exist. MMA fighters are more rounded, complete fighters and boxing is a big part of their standup game. I don't think anyone can really disagree with that observation. Without training, a MMA fighter would destroy a boxer on the ground.
I guess it all boils down to the fact that MMA takes the best of all the combat sports, combines them and pits them against each other. Thus, it draws the fans from all disciplines. To any purist of any sport, that in itself will be offensive and will be perceived as a threat against their "culture". To the UFC, that works to their advantage as the discussions shine even more light on MMA.