Is MMA Destined To Suffer the Same Fate as Boxing?

Oliver SuarezContributor IINovember 18, 2009

LAS VEGAS - JULY 11:  Brock Lesnar reacts after knocking out Frank Mir during their heavyweight title bout during UFC 100 on July 11, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

MMA is one of the fastest growing sports today, especially within the younger generation. UFC and its promotional machine are mostly responsible for its popularity.

They have made the sport very visible and its athletes seem to be more approachable than their boxing counterparts. Also, MMA pay-per-view fights regularly draw numbers that only a few boxers such as Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, and Oscar De la Hoya can match.

HBO and others can learn a few things on how UFC produces their shows. Boxing promoters also must improve the quality of their undercards since typical UFC pay per view cards are usually stacked from top to bottom.

As a result of MMA’s success many of its fans have been too quick to judge boxing as a dying sport. They say MMA is on its way to replace boxing as the main entertainment fighting. But MMA is still young and there are already signs that it may suffer the same fate as boxing.

Many MMA fans often mention that boxing promoters only care about the money and not the sport. But that can also be said for MMA or UFC. Why do you think Fedor Emelianenko has not fought in a UFC card? It’s because he does not want to sign an exclusive contract with UFC. Dana White does not want to co-promote a Fedor fight and share any profits. Just like in boxing, some fights may never happen due to politics and money.

When a new MMA organization pops up, Dana White is always so quick to criticize or threaten it. Remember White’s reaction when Affliction first started? When Strikeforce signed Fedor, Dana White basically questioned Fedor’s greatness and mocked Strikeforce. He is no different than the promoters in boxing.

Sooner or later many of the big fights will be much more difficult to set up. In boxing, a number of fights often fall short during negotiations because of money or promotional problems. UFC will soon face those problems. Their fighters are grossly underpaid considering the success of their pay per view cards.

Do you think MMA fighters will continue to sacrifice their health without getting proper compensation for their services? I mean Lyoto Machida only got paid $200,000 for UFC 104 and he is one of their biggest stars. That’s chump change compared to what Pacquiao and Mayweather make.

Fighters in UFC also must sign a licensing agreement with Zuffa Inc, where they basically give up their opportunities to make money on their own image. In boxing, the fighters don’t have to sign any licensing agreement. Floyd and Pacquiao make tons of money outside the sport via endorsements because they have control over the use of their own image.

Critics of boxing also point out the fact that boxing often lacks a legitimate champion in its weight classes, which is true because of the number of politics governing bodies. What is worse is there could be multiple champions in a certain weight class just from one governing body. In the WBA alone you can have a "champion in recess”, “interim champion,” “regular champion,” and “superchampion.”

But MMA also has the same problem. Of course almost everyone considers Fedor the best Heavyweight in MMA, but how can we know for sure when he hasn’t fought the likes of Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture, or Shane Carwin.

How can MMA fans truly know who the best in each division is, when fighters from different companies do not fight each other? What if Lesnar moves to a new organization before fighting Velasquez or Carwin? Can we still proclaim him the best in his division?

MMA fans also point out the corruption in boxing including controversial decisions such as the Juan Diaz Vs Paul Malignaggi fight. But what about the Lyoto Machida Vs Shogun Rua fight?

The same problems in boxing also exist in the sport of MMA. The different fighting organizations such as UFC and Strikeforce are the counterparts of the governing bodies in boxing. They each have their own agenda and it may not always be for the better of the sport and fans. MMA is a great sport but its fans should not count out boxing just yet.