High Kick (Courtesy of www.urijahfaber.com)
If you did not already know, mixed martial arts has and will continue to dominate boxing in combat sports.
Boxing has practically fallen off the face of the earth after the reign of Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and Mike Tyson in the 90s.
Other than the recent sheer dullness of the sport, boxing has had its share of reasons for heading in a downward spiral this past decade.
MMA was not always a very desirable sport to watch. In fact, Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, along with brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, purchased the UFC from a bankrupt bound company known as Semaphore Entertainment Group for $2 million in 2001.
Today, the UFC is worth over $1 billion.
Dana White and the Fertitta brothers are basically responsible for putting MMA on the map of combat sports. There are many MMA companies but the largest of them is undoubtedly the UFC. The same guys at the UFC also own the WEC and have put competitors such as Affliction, the IFL, and Pride out of business.
So for the sake of boring you with a thousand numbers from different MMA companies, I will be referring to the UFC to represent all of MMA at times when comparing it to boxing.
Let’s go through the reasons as to why MMA has and will continue to be more popular, exciting, and worth your money than boxing.
First, MMA is much safer than boxing. Case closed. There is no argument for boxing when comparing the two. Only a fool would argue that boxing is a safer sport.
Speaking of fools, President Todd duBoef of the popular boxing company Top Rank stated, “There’s no way it’s (MMA) safer than boxing.”
Did duBoef really say that? Maybe he can explain why since the UFC was founded in 1993, there have only been two fight related deaths compared to that of boxing which stands at a frightening number of 71 deaths since 1993. This figure relates to Top Rank alone.
MMA is safer than boxing for the simplest of reasons. In an MMA fight, someone can lose by submission (arm or leg lock, or a choke) or a quick technical knock out, which is meant to protect the fighters. Boxing on the other hand involves fighters taking punch after punch and after getting knocked down, get back up time after time until they are ultimately knocked out.
One may argue the knockouts in MMA are more vicious than that of boxing. True this may be, but according to the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, “knockout rates are lower in MMA competition than in boxing.”
So before duBoef says something completely wrong, maybe he should focus on what he does knows which according to White, isn’t much,
“What does Todd duBoef know about MMA?” White said. “He doesn’t know what he is talking about. I don’t know what he knows, but whatever it is, he ought to stick to that.”
Second, boxing has become downright boring compared to MMA. There are too many rounds in boxing, and the fact that they are two minutes shorter than MMA does not help. After the several pointless clinches the round is nearly over. The clinch actually serves a purpose in MMA whereas in boxing, the only purpose the clinch serves is rest for the supposedly “conditioned” fighters. Who wants to see two sweaty guys hug for half of a fight? Not me.
The fast pace of MMA keeps the fans focused because at any given moment something can happen. The four to six ounce gloves worn by the fighters can cause a knockout in a blink of an eye.
A fighter can quickly capitalize off a simple mistake made by an opponent and finish the fight with a submission.
Recent facts prove that in the past few years MMA is the more watched sport between the two. In 2006, a UFC bout between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock gathered 4.3 million viewers. In the same year, an HBO boxing event between Winky Wright and Jermain Taylor had 3.5 million viewers.
In 2007 the success continued for the UFC. A fight between Mirko “Cro Crop” and Gabriel Gonzaga gained 2.8 million viewers compared to 1.5 million viewers of the boxing match between Ricky Hatton and Juan Urango.
In 2009 the largest state for combat sports in the U.S., Nevada, was dominated by the UFC. The income for boxing was $8,832,950. MMA made a total of $12,657,210.
The numbers do not lie.
People want something different and new. The fast pace and explosiveness of MMA provides viewers with exactly that.
Last, MMA targets a younger audience than boxing. When you look at the advertisement of MMA, the music at the events, and the girls in the bikinis you realize that the younger crowd is dazzled by these features.
Because of the unpopularity of boxing in the younger generations, the sport could very well disappear from mainstream media in the coming years.
I think I owe an apology to boxing fans. I am not trying to bash on boxing and am certainly not going to discredit the sport. It played a vital roll in the development of combat sports.
Boxers such as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier are responsible for the explosion of combat sports. Tyson, Lewis, and Holyfield dominated the 90s. Even today guys like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather make exciting bouts.
The biggest difference between the boxers of today and the boxers of over a decade ago is that only the little guys bring the excitement. Let me tell you why this is.
The largest and strongest athletes in the U.S. turn to sports like football and basketball. They are safer and still pay millions of dollars. Could you imagine what guys like Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, or even Shaq (in his prime of course) would do in the sport of boxing? Those athletes and others alike can play their sport for ten years and probably never get knocked out.
Pacquiao and Mayweather are too small to play in the NFL or the NBA. But their quickness and athleticism allows them to succeed in their sport. Look at Pacquiao he has won seven title fights. That is unheard of in MMA. The differences weight classes in MMA will not allow a fighter to jump back and forth between them as they do in boxing, but Pacquiao’s accomplishments are still amazing.
As good as those guys may be, they will not be able to take on the force of MMA. Maybe the only hope for boxing is to let White and the Fertitta brothers buy the biggest companies to add onto their empire. At the very least companies like Top Rank would be owned by someone who actually knows what they are doing. That may be the biggest difference between MMA and boxing after all.