Boxing and the UFC: Are they really that Different?

05.01.07 - By: Troy Ondrizek: Riddle me this, why have boxing fans and mixed martial arts fans (MMA) pitted themselves against one another? I am so exhausted mentally from listening to MMA fans taunt boxing fans for boxing’s supposed fiscal demise, and then hearing boxing’s constituency fire back with equally childish remarks of MMA just being a fad. People get over it already, seriously enough is enough. The reality is that the UFC isn’t going away anytime soon and boxing needs to come to terms with that..

Hell, there are some aspects of what Dana White (UFC president) has done with the UFC and it’s marketing capabilities that boxing could use to employ. Useful aspects such as putting big-time fights and big-name combatants on cable television have really helped the UFC and could do the same for boxing. The reality show on Spike TV cable network called “The Ultimate Fighter” in which the organization creates its future stars in the same manner as “The Contender” does for boxing, has done wonders for the few young guys in the league, guys like Diego Sanchez, Keith Jardine, and Forrest Griffin.

I truly do admire how mainstream MMA has become of late and how the younger generations have embraced this controlled violence. Boxing undoubtedly has lost touch with some of the youth out there (thus the influx in articles of how great the old days were because the boxing writers can only remember the old days and can’t see the TV well enough to see how good some of today’s combatants are), and the sport is lacking cross-over appeal with the younger generation and more importantly women. Yes I said women and they are invaluable to the success of combat sports. Follow along with me for a second and I can explain, okay lets face it, men will always want to see two people punch each other in the head whether they have gloves on or not. If your woman is interested in a fighter or a particular fight, then it makes watching boxing or MMA easier because she won’t whine during the telecast and it will be okay if you watch more of it. Plus she will be willing to help pony up some bucks when a quality PPV comes along or when the fights are in town she might even suggest that you attend. This makes enjoyment of the sport greater for you and you won’t have to use your best excuses on why or where the money went. So with that being said, the young ladies seem far more attracted to the UFC then they are of boxing. Couple that with the fact that most of boxing’s stars are rarely on TV and the few talented athletes that UFC have are constantly on TV, it makes fighter recognition easier for both men and women.

Boxing has been around in some form since Zeus and Apollo watched mortal men batter each other for hours at a time, so I doubt that an upstart sport is going to sink it now (even with all that is wrong with boxing). There are arguments that MMA is harder than boxing and vice versa, but my opinion in dabbling in both is that boxing takes greater skill to succeed at, but that is just my experience and is inconsequential to the truth. The truth is that sports are entertainment and both boxing and MMA are very entertaining sports. There is also the amateur fabric in boxing, Olympic history, and how boxing is a better support system for youth. Plus how many MMA fighters have made social impacts and have truly transcended all media? I’m sure that there will be a few men who will have the opportunity to do such, but there will never be someone like a Muhammad Ali, Jack Johnson, or Oscar De La Hoya in the MMA world. Boxing, as miniscule as its popularity seems to be, has a greater acceptance around the world and boxing has a far more defined cultural divide than MMA. I mean that in a sense there is a far greater pride in one’s country and fighters from that country in boxing than there is in MMA. Boxing will never go away, no matter how hard certain entities are trying to ruin it.

I actually like the popularity that the UFC has achieved for it brings notoriety to all fighting sport not just itself. If an itch is created inside an individual for watching fighting on TV by the UFC, that individual will most likely tend to watch boxing when it is on and thus be attracted to the sport in that fashion. When there is an influx in viewers into combat sports, all different aspects of combat sports will benefit. There are also no competing dates or competing venues for UFC main events and boxing main events, so theoretically MMA isn’t really stealing too much business or viewers from boxing.

For as much success as the UFC has achieved of late, MMA has it faults as well that are very similar to boxing’s. I have seen almost every UFC since the days of Maurice Smith and Tank Abbott. Hell, I watched Royce Gracie choke out Ken Shamrock in the very first UFC tournament. So that means I have seen some great fight cards in my viewing days, I also have seen some absolutely worthless UFC fight cards and PPVs as well. Recently, most of the main stream fight cards with the likes of Tim Sylvia and Matt Hughes have been very disappointing in terms of action and competitiveness. I will concede that the most recent card headlined by Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz was a spectacular card all the way through. The same goes for boxing as we all know there are some cards that just suck out, the ones that usually have Winky Wright or Floyd Mayweather Jr. headlining, then there are cards that feature fighters like Manny Pacquiao that bring excitement to every round they are in. That is the nature of all fights, some inherently will be better than others, based on styles and certain fighters.

Don’t forget that two of the most famous fighters in the UFC have recently lost their titles to relative no names, pretty boy Rich Franklin lost to unheralded Anderson Silva, and the ever popular and uber-strong Matt Hughes was destroyed by Canadian Georges St. Pierre (note that St. Pierre is my favorite fighter and because of him I made a handsome sum of money on that fight, thanks Georges, here’s to your knee getting better). St. Pierre is more marketable than Silva is, but isn’t the crossover fighter that neither Franklin nor Hughes were, just a better fighter. However, even with their stars losing recently, White and the UFC have decided to sign MMA studs Quinton Jackson and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic to help bring popularity to the UFC and give credibility to its existence. Let me tell you how bad Cro Cop is, I can’t wait until his leg kicks demolish all the heavyweights in the UFC and Dana White will be forced to pony-up the cash to sign Fedor Emelianenko to try to get someone to stop Filipovic.

There is more than enough room for both sports to thrive, sure one is established and there will be a bit of resentment from the “old-guard” and diehard fans to not give MMA or the UFC its due. However, the ardent fans of the UFC who say that their product is better than boxing and that it will only be a matter of time until the UFC surpasses boxing in popularity; well they are delusional. Nothing can or ever will replace boxing and that’s the damn truth. Boxing will always be number one in the hearts of the world and the crown of being the best boxer pound for pound or the true heavyweight champion will hold far more credence in the minds of fans worldwide than if the same could be said of UFC fighters. That though doesn’t excuse the ridiculous feud between the two sports and their fans. UFC has its place in the fighting entertainment world and we as boxing fans can actually enjoy it, but as much as this sounds pompous, UFC’s place will always be second to boxing and we as boxing fans should focus more positive attention on our sport and its okay to enjoy a little MMA action on the side.

Article posted on 05.01.2007

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