UFC vs. Boxing: Is Mixed Martial Arts Taking Over?

Jonathan R.R. ClarkeContributor IIIFebruary 9, 2011

Boxing .v. MMA
Boxing .v. MMA

Last night, in our smoky bar room, my brother and I had a very in-depth argument with our father. My dad is a huge boxing fan; he’s got a library of the greatest boxers' entire careers on VHS and DVD – from Marciano to Ali, Duran to Leonard and Lamotta to Calzaghe. Whilst me and my brother have a collection of UFC DVD’s, from UFC 1 through to UFC 53, from the classic Gracie fights to the career boxsets of Georges St.Pierre and Anderson Silva. So the question was asked, is boxing now ‘archaic’ and in the shadow of Mixed Martial Arts? And would the likes of Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin be able to adapt to Boxing better than David Haye or Floyd Mayweather could to the UFC?

It’s a science. It’s "beautiful to watch. It’s almost like ballet." These are all arguments that my dad placed forth for Boxing to be the supreme fighting sport. However, such is his blinkered view of the situation, such is the fact that he has never given Mixed Martial Arts a chance and claimed it was "boring" because the fighters were on the floor in a clinch, he has little substance with which he can lay his argument on.

Mixed Martial Arts can be equally as beautiful to watch if you know and understand the complexities of Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling AND boxing. The fact that UFC fighters train in boxing as well as all of the other martial arts is the main principle of my argument. Many UFC fighters are very capable boxers who train with professionals to improve their skills.

Georges St.Pierre has recently been seen training with Pacquiao and Freddie Roach and we all witnessed how that benefited him at UFC 124 against Koscheck. Carwin’s punches and ferociousness are qualities the boxing world hasn’t seen since Mike Tyson. James Toney recently fought in the UFC against Randy Couture and was, frankly, embarrassed. His complete lack of knowledge once he was on the ground was on show to thousands, as Randy choked him out within two minutes of round one. This was a predictable outcome because (as we all know) a boxer is very restricted with his skills compared to a mixed martial artist.

But could (or would) a mixed martial artist be a successful boxer?

The money in boxing is unquestionably higher than it is in the UFC/Mixed Martial Arts industry. The top boxers can get paid multi-millions of dollars per fight, whilst top UFC fighters get paid a mere couple of hundred thousand. Now, a couple of hundred thousand is by no means an economical living, but compared to boxing, it’s relatively nothing.

As the UFC grows in popularity and boxing becomes a relic of the past, we will see this gap in financial support dwindle, but for the time being, why don’t capable fighters in the UFC (by which I mean strong boxers) convert their skills to Boxing? Even just ONE fight in boxing would earn millions more than in the UFC organization would ever pay. And, at the end of the day, money IS everything.

Except money isn’t everything is it?

Not for the fighters in the UFC. Their love for the sport, the fans and the Mixed Martial Arts training means far more to them than a hefty wage packet. This was my argument that seemed to confuse my dad. As a businessman, he couldn’t understand how money wasn’t the main attraction. Sportsmen, I mean true sportsmen, would sooner win trophies and medals than have millions in the bank. The best sportsmen have both of course, but the ones with a true sporting heart would sacrifice money and all for their sport.

This is what the UFC fighters are. If Georges St.Pierre, Randy Couture or Anderson Silva wanted to be Boxers they WOULD have been. They clearly have the skills, the fitness and heart required for the sport. But they chose Mixed Martial Arts because that is THEIR sport. That is what they wanted to be. And if that means they can only afford two Ferraris instead of a hanger full, so be it.

This is the part where all boxing fans will hate me. Mixed Martial Arts requires a lot more skill. There, I said it. It’s fact. God knows I’m a huge boxing fan—I’m Rocky Marciano’s biggest fan, and Muhammad Ali is one of my greatest idols.

But the simple fact of the matter is that now, in the 21st century, Boxing is dying out. Its lack of talent and true legends is stifling the sport and, besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, there aren’t any true quality boxers. If we rewound this argument some 40 years and Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Norton etc. were around, this debate wouldn’t be debated. Something the UFC will never have that boxing has is history.

At the end of the day, boxing is a completely different sport from Mixed Martial Arts and to pit these two against one another could be deemed unfair. Boxing fans are boxing fans. Mixed Martial Arts fans are...Mixed Martial Arts fans. Period. I agree with this. Yes you can be both, but boxing fans that are disrespectful to Mixed Martial Arts competitions, are simply showing an absurd stubbornness and severe one-sightedness.

"Boxing is a clever sport; it’s tactical and better to watch than MMA." Not at all. That is a rude, naive remark to say and, sadly, we are hearing a lot of boxing fans say it (or something of the sort).

My blood is starting to go off the boil which is why I find it appropriate to wind down this debate to a conclusion. The UFC/MMA is an evolving sport, which is young, relatively to boxing, but a sport which is also increasing in popularity (ten-fold) with every month that passes. Equally, boxing is declining, which says to me, the MMA industry will overtake boxing, if it has not already.

And, to the boxing fans who remain loyal to their sport - that is fine. Just don’t vent a jealous and scathing assumption and disrespectful argument against MMA.

Now let the rude comments commence.