It is no secret that MMA has surpassed boxing in many respects in recent years. While boxing certainly has a more storied history, the sport seems to have been resting on its laurels for some time as corruption, sanctioning bodies and senseless promotional feuds have prevented the best fights from taking place.
MMA is one of the world’s fastest growing sports, and while I do not regularly watch the UFC or other promotions like Strikeforce, it is even obvious to the casual observer how far the sport has developed since UFC 1 in 1993.
The rise of MMA has put boxing fans on the defensive, which is unfortunate. While it would be ideal if both sports could grow together and complement each other in some way, fans of both combat disciplines often resort to hypothetical matchup scenarios to argue about which sport is greater, or they level ad hominem attacks against every conceivable aspect and personality involved in boxing and MMA (depending, of course, on where you stand).
As we saw when James Toney deigned to fight UFC legend Randy Couture, when these ridiculous hypothetical matchups become a reality, it is embarrassing for everyone involved. In that particularly fight, Toney made a mockery of himself and those in the boxing world who arrogantly look down on MMA, while the UFC shamed itself by agreeing to stage the fight (on Pay-Per-View no less!).
The bottom line is that this tension between MMA and boxing should stop. Both sports have carved out their respective niches, and boxing, given that it is at an all-time low, is still around and won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
That said, boxing can learn a thing or two from how the UFC is run, and the following is a list of ways boxing can perhaps bridge the recent gap between both sports and return to its former level of prominence. Some are more realistic, while others are a pipe dream. Either way, how boxing can reclaim bygone prestige is a subject worth debating.