Boxing vs. MMA: "No Rage for the Cage"
The crowds swell, the anticipation builds and the walk to the octagon begins. The walk itself is sponsored by whomever, as is the final "checkpoint" into which the fighters pose prior to stepping inside the cage.
Apologies are due to the overly sensitive MMA defenders...sort of.
It's a high fenced geometrical shape and it comes complete with a door. That is called a cage. Eight sides are more than four sides, but one sport does not trump the other. It's neither apples to oranges nor Atari to Intellivision.
Before you, the kind reader proceeds, please allow this declaration. No disrespect is being shown towards the practitioners of mixed martial arts. The men and women of any professional sport are in their respective positions because of endless amounts of hard work, sacrifice and commitment.
The clear differences are a bit more evident once one sport proclaims its triumph over the other. Case in point: the never ending yet laughable Mixed Martial Arts (or more to the point, UFC) versus boxing debate. To many, it's an argument that cannot simply be left alone. To some, it's just a matter of preference.
Surprisingly though, many in the ranks continue to incessantly run their garrulous mouths to no end. "Boxing is dead" is still the war cry heard from a great number of UFC fans and their respective posse. We'll take just a quick look at why it's actually quite alive and rather ticked.
Styles make fights, or so the cliché goes. In regard to boxing, which is commonly accepted as a sport that dates back over a thousand years, there's only so many ways to go.
Even when a fighter adheres to the official Marquess of Queensbury rules, we can still imagine what might take place when the opening bell sounds. Some are patient, while others are aggressive. Many are, in the eyes of some, outright boring.
The finest of the crop are the ones who truly understand the essence and the meaning of the sweet science. A punch is thrown and an opening is exposed. A punch. Not a kick, a knee, a choke hold or a take-down.
Picture the classic moment that is the stare down. We can only imagine what is going through the mind of the pugilist. The combatants may be attempting to paint the perfect picture of what will take place in the ring.
One can imagine how he/she will come out swinging yet never forgetting to remain calm. It's not a bar fight. If you knock your opponent to the floor, then it becomes the task of the referee to take charge and start the counting. There's something inherently wrong and feasibly atavistic in jumping on a downed challenger.
Granted, boxing has had its fair share of characters. There have been participants who did little to enrich the sport in any way.
Likewise the bureaucracy, hampering, and the paving of the roads to ruination of the best fights and boxers have left an indelible shiner on the face of the fight game. It's aggravating to no end, but it's a beautiful thing.
The previous statement will be explained by way of example.
A newcomer to the sport of boxing may not be able to grasp the number of sanctioning bodies and their corresponding titles. Many long time associates of boxing have the same problem as well. There's the WBC, WBO and IBO, just to name a few. Some organizations came to be because of disagreements and the desire to have it ones' own way.
There's no such problem with the UFC, as there is but one belt per weight division. What, no tag team titles? Boxing is sadly seen as being in a state of entanglement simply because two certain fighters won't meet in the ring. Common sense intervenes and tells us the sport is more important than two names. They may never meet up. They don't have to, do they?
One of the trump cards so passionately held by the MMA clique is the fact that the best fight the best and that one loss doesn't necessarily end the championship aspirations of a fighter. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the type of business that would be referred to in Japan as a Keiretsu. Here we would call it a monopoly.
According to the words of a few past UFC combatants, if you are one of their fighters and you go against their wishes, you have committed social suicide. Furthermore, there are various reasons why UFC is able to operate with an almost nonexistent overhead. Endorsement deals for such things as nutritional supplements, energy drinks and sporting equipment.
The biggest amount of speculation should perhaps be given to the fact that the UFC basically pays its fighters in peanuts.
That is why they are able to toss their fans a paltry crumb and show a "Fight Night on FOX" telecast. The one saving grace of that network is NFL Football. The rest of it is reality fodder and mind numbing black hole programming.
At the very least, many boxing Pay-Per-View events are replayed in part on network cable the following week. By contrast, the contemptible business model put forth by Dana White and company allows its paying customers to watch a replay of any major UFC event (which are still being assigned a number and is about as effective as counting Super Bowls) any time they choose for a certain duration of time afterwards. For the full and original asking price. They can keep the money and keep on counting and counting it.
It is likely to be a never ending argument. For now, let the comparisons, likes, and dislikes perish by the wayside. The reflections can be reignited whenever a UFC bout brings an entire country to a standstill. Whenever the company abandons the facade that its events, marketing and mission have anything to do with non monetary matters, then the comparison discussion can be brought back to the table.
One hundred years from now, boxing will still have a home. If MMA wishes to legitimately seen as entertainment and not just a way to pacify a neolithic bloodlust, then it should tear the pages out of its manuals that allow the sport to be likened more to professional wrestling. Clean house.
One sport has the big Buffer, while the other employs the little one, who is as animated as a little kid who has just heard the ice cream truck.
Yes, the sporting world is tired of hearing about the back and forth banter between the the two most popular fighters on the planet and their respective companies. However, consider this small yet important fact. They can do whatever they want, often times seemingly without regard to the paying public. The existing freedom to do so is what makes the idea a good one.
Contemplate the alternative...Fight!
Fight now or hit the road, Jack. There will be no suggestion that you can never come back.
Photo courtesy of Sherdog