Like many fight fans, I fell in love with boxing fan from an early age, and became progressively intrigued by the scintillating lure of arguably the purest sport on earth, which involved two men enclosed in a ring vis-à-vis, with a view to ultimately disconnecting his adversary from consciousness, thereby determining the better individual combatant. Isn’t this, after all, the very essence of all sport, the veritable embodiment of competition?
Then along came MMA and the UFC, which assured us that this is “as real as it gets”. Inspired by “Vale Tudo” tournaments in Brazil, the UFC and the sport of MMA have roots in the ancient Olympic combat sport of Pankration in 648 BC”. Indeed, the UFC showcased fighters of multiple disciplines in order to identify the most effective martial art in a real fight. Could anyone dispute that this was the purest form of existing combat, replicating true-to-life NHB combat scenarios? (ok, aside from the fact that most belligerent men in bars don’t wear spandex nuthuggers).
I believe that my route into MMA fandom is a rather conventional one, paralleled by a vast number of my contemporaries that pertain to the “MMA Community”. Of course there are those for whom boxing and MMA will forever prove mutually exclusive, to be adjudged in isolation, with those people liable to perceive my endeavour to compare and contrast the sports as sacrilege.
It is generally anti-MMA boxing fans that express such a grievance since this cohort invariably constitutes combat sports’ version of a “snob”, whist conversely MMA fans tend to simultaneously display an admiration for its pugilistic predecessor. This is neatly epitomised by spearheads of both sports, Bob Arum, Bert Sugar, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta. Bob and Bert openly confess their distaste for the sport of MMA (though they harbour a respect for the majestic marketing of the UFC), whilst Dana and Lorenzo are self-professed boxing enthusiasts (Dana in fact instructed boxing before encountering MMA) who believe that both sports may coexist harmoniously.
For others boxing and MMA may be inextricably linked, falling under the bracket of “combat sports”. Many, like myself, will have been introduced to/encountered one sport through the other, having been enticed into MMA as a natural progression to an initial appreciation of boxing or vice-versa.
I would now like to return to the initial title and enumerate the multiple elements which have contributed to cultivating a sport in MMA that in my humble opinion is better to, and for, the fans than boxing. And, just to qualify this assertion, I am not contesting which sport is better per se (as this is wholly/holy subjective), nor am I arguing which sport is more popular (After all, the 16,412 fans that packed Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena for Pacquiao vs Mosley is nearly 1,600 more enthusiasts than the UFC has ever drawn to the same venue), but rather which is better to and for the fans, hence purely from an objective fan perspective.
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