Boxing or UFC Tonight?
The biggest fight of the year takes place in just a few hours when top pound-for-pound fighter and current Welterweight Champion Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) meets nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, the current Lightweight Champion, for the third time.
However, as a few of my friends have so often reminded me, that's not the only fight taking place tonight.
A UFC mixed martial arts heavyweight title fight will take place as well as its champion, Cain Velasquez (9-0), will step into the the Octagon to defend his title against Junior dos Santos (13-1).
In the aftermath of the death of fight legend Joe Frazier, some of MMA writers and fans compared tonight's UFC's heavyweight title fight to Ali vs Frazier. Its a nonsensical argument for the following reasons:
- Ali and Frazier fought three times while tonight's UFC combatants are meeting for the first time.
- Ali vs Frazier was an epic trilogy between two all-time fight greats. We can't say the same about their 'so-called' modern-day UFC contemporaries who will step into the Octagon shortly... At least not yet.
- By the time Ali and Frazier met the first time, they'd participated in a combined 12 heavyweight championship bouts while tonight's UFC fighters have participated one heavyweight title fight... combined.
- Ali and Frazier were undefeated when first they met and sported a perfect, combined record of 57-0. Junior dos Santos isn't undefeated and the fighters in UFC's main event tonight have a combined record of 22-1.
Its ironic some of UFC's die-hards are comparing Velasquez vs dos Santos to Ali vs Frazier when the more accurate comparison to Ali vs Frazier is Pacquiao vs Marquez. Unlike UFC's heavyweight combatants who will battle tonight, Pacquiao and Marquez:
- Have fought twice before in competitive, action-packed battles, as did Ali and Frazier prior to their third fight.
- Are accomplished superstars and proven champions, as were Ali and Frazier prior to all of their fights, and
- Are both considered in the top five, pound-for-pound, in their sport by many of its experts
Prior to their first meeting, Ali had been a dominant heavyweight champion for four years while Frazier, an Olympic gold medal champion, was the current heavyweight champion who boasted a 26-0 record, had successfully defended his title and had beaten 8-10 'name' opponents. Velasquez and dos Santos are excellent mixed martial artists but fall well short of those credentials.
Regardless of wins tonight, Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KO) and Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KO) are legends - The same can't be said of Valasquez and dos Santos because their legacies are still unknown. Even a win for either combatant would fail to propel him to legendary status in combat sports.
UFC fans who understand those facts are still giddy about tonight and they have every reason to be because they'll watch their main event for free.
UFC on Fox
The UFC fight will take place on Fox (in the USA) for free while viewers of Pacquiao vs Marquez III will have to pay $59.95 USD to watch the megafight if they intend to view it at home.
Tonight will serve as the first time Fox will nationally televise a UFC event live. It's a great move by UFC because the organization will be able to showcase two of their best heavyweights to a massive audience and extend its growing fan base. In addition, a lot of casual boxing fans who don't plan on paying to watch Pacquiao vs Marquez will undoubtedly watch Velasquez vs dos Santos. So although UFC stands to lose a lot of money for making their big heavyweight fight free, it's a good marketing strategy and long-term investment.
So yes UFC fans, being able to showcase a heavyweight title fight on national television for free is worth bragging about.
Boxing or UFC Tonight?
There are a lot of crossover fans on both sides and many will watch both sport's main events. And while you'll be able to watch one fight for free, keep in mind there's no comparing the legacies of Valasquez and dos Santos to Pacquiao and Marquez nor their current ranks in their respective sports.
One sport will showcase two, top-tier heavyweights while the other will give you two elite, top pound-for-pound fighters who are accomplished legends of the game.
With all due respect to Velasquez and dos Santos, two of world's best heavyweights in mixed martial arts, the rightful comparison to Ali vs Frazier and their epic fight saga is Pacquiao vs Marquez III.