I have long been a steadfast devotee of the “Sweet Science”. Growing up, I was spoiled by the likes of Ali vs. Frazier, Leonard vs. Hearns and Tyson vs. Holyfield. While there have been some incredible fights in recent years, boxing has gone through a transition and not for the better. The monstrous heavyweights who shook the ring with their thunderous battles have been replaced with jab and hold Ukrainians who put fans to sleep faster than Unisom. And the group of middleweights who once spent their time rotating amongst each other in some of the most memorable clashes are now represented by an undefeated, brand whoring loudmouth who spent more time ducking punches than landing them.
I was also around for the beginnings of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) I, along with most of the country, remember looking at this new sport and shaking my head at the pure absurdity of it. Adjectives like grotesque, animalistic and inhumane ran through my mind as I watched these fighters emerged from their bouts, bloodied and looking as if someone had attempted to disembowel them with a dull knife. They were kneeing each other in the face, throwing elbows to the side of the head and even twisting arms and legs to the point of fracture. In my mind, this “blood sport” was classless and would go by the wayside within a year. Oh how I, and the rest of the country, were wrong. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has not only lasted beyond that first year, it has blossomed to be the fastest growing combat sport in the history of combat sports.
Below are 15 Reasons Why the UFC is Killing Boxing as We Know It
15. UFC Is More Like Actual Fighting
The one thing boxing is not, is fighting. It is referred to as the “Sweet Science” because it relies on a combination of perfectly executed punches, quick and elusive body movements, and a distinct strategy designed to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses while scoring as many points possible on the judge’s scorecard. However, things happen a bit differently in a real fight. While a fight will include punches, more often than not, fighters will end up on the ground and this is where those UFC comparisons come into play. Guys are smothering each other, landing punches to the face and throwing elbows to the side of the head. They are putting each other into headlocks and or chokeholds, and twisting arms and legs in all different directions.
14. UFC Promoters Work Together
While Top Rank’s Bob Arum and Golden Boy Promotions’ Oscar De La Hoya smiled for the cameras in person and then proceeded to argue back and forth with each other in the press, Dana White (and his prodigal matchmaker, Joe Silva) were busy putting together some of the most entertaining mixed martial arts events in history. The advantage of course is that White and Silva both work for the same company and collaborate in tandem to bring fans the most exciting fights possible. The Key here also is that they are able to do this on a consistent basis without the long, drawn out periods of time such as is the case with professional boxing. So Arum and De La Hoya can continue dueling through the press and lobbing accusations and lies back and forth in an effort to draw buzz and hype to a fight that, more often than not, will get postponed or outright cancelled, While and Silva will remain in the deepest bowels of the UFC headquarters creating the best fight cards that mixed martial arts has to offer.
13. Boxers Have Been Known To Play It Safe
On May 8th, 1999, the Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya fought Felix Trinidad for the welterweight title of the world. De La Hoya was nothing short of a magician for the first 9 rounds against the Puerto Rican star. He was light on his feet and his punches were crisp and regularly found their mark. Many in the know commented that those first nine rounds represented some of the greatest boxing they had every witnessed which would surely result in a unanimous decision for De La Hoya. The Golden Boy must have felt the same as he took the remaining rounds off. He danced around the squared circle and ran and ran while Trinidad charged forward; unleashing everything he had on the champ. A match that was billed to be the fight of the millennium ended in a chorus of boos from a crowd that had trouble making sense of what they had just witnessed. As for De La Hoya, he walked out of the ring in shock and disbelief as Trinidad walked out with the belt.
12. Pacquiao/Mayweather Was The Ultimate Letdown
On May 2nd, 2015, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather finally met in the squared circle; however, what was billed as the fight of the century ended up as the letdown of a lifetime. Speculation began in 2009 when both fighters were at the top of their game and had already wiped the canvas of everyone who was anyone. However, as is the case with professional boxing, the B.S. began. There was the back and forth with Mayweather’s camp demanding that Pacquiao commit to drug testing. Pacquiao returned the favor by suing for defamation. Each time a date was set, it would be cancelled while promoters from both sides traded barbs over who was stalling, and then Pacquiao suffered consecutive losses exposing that he was in fact human after all. By the time the bout took place, both men were past their prime and Mayweather did what he always does; waited it out, scored points and won by decision.
11. Loaded Gloves Ruin Boxing
On July 26th, 2008, Antonio Margarito took on the popular Puerto Rican fighter Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Cotto was favored in the fight as he was quicker and a far superior pugilist. However, Margarito just kept coming forward, landing bomb after bomb to Miguel. By the middle of the fight, Cotto’s face resembled the remnants of a meat grinder and by the top of the 11th, his trainer had seen enough and threw in the towel. The following January, Margarito matched up against the great, “Sugar” Shane Mosely in Los Angeles. During the pre-fight hand inspections, Margarito’s was found to have hardened inserts hidden in his hand wraps which were immediately confiscated by officials. The fight was allowed to go on and Mosely knocked the Mexican out in the 9th round. Margarito was suspended and many speculated that Margarito had the same loaded gloves when he mangled Cotto 6 months earlier.
10. There Hasn’t Been A Legit American Heavyweight Since The Eras Of Ali/Frazier And Tyson/Holyfield
Back in prehistoric times, boxing fans wanted to see big men go to war. When Joe Frazier landed one of his monstrous uppercuts to Muhammad Ali’s jaw, the earth shook; when Mike Tyson threw his knockout punch, the seas parted ways; and when Evander Holyfield removed Buster Douglas’ jaw from his face, time stood still. However, much like the time of the dinosaur, the heyday of boxing ended when the big boys disappeared from the face of the earth. It used to be that fighters who were less than 150 pounds were like the midget rodeo clowns that warmed up the circus crowd before the lions and tigers came out to the ring; now they are the main attraction. Unfortunately, present times leave us with the Klitschko brothers who, with their constant jab and grab, are more likely to put the audience to sleep than their opponents.
9. No One Wants To Face GGG
Gennady Golovkin, otherwise known as GGG, may be the most feared man in boxing at the moment. He has compiled a record of 36-0 with 29 of those wins coming by knockout and he has made a mockery of everyone who has dared stand in his way in the middle weight division. One would figure that such a dominant showing should automatically guarantee him a title shot against the reigning badass of all bad assess, Canelo Alvarez, but not so fast. With the exception of his only loss to Money Mayweather, Alvarez has also been busy burying everyone in his path and making insane amounts of the greens stuff in the process. He is in no hurry to put a halt to that gravy train by receiving a supreme ass whuppin at the hands of the man from Kazakhstan. So for the combination of ego and greed, boxing fans will once again be deprived of a showdown that could make Mayweather/Pacquiao look like fight night at the Apollo.
8. Blatant Match Fixing In Boxing
Nothing is more frustrating for fans of the sweet science than the blatant corruption. At times, the world of the pugilist is more akin to grooming a corrupt politician running for office than a fair and honest quest between two fighters for a title belt. This practice has been going on for so long that it is woven into the fabric of the sport. Time and time again, we see decisions that were so blatantly biased that all we could do is throw up our hands in a both amazement and disgust. How often have people screamed at their television screen that they will never watch another boxing match again? One fighter will be pummelled round after round only to be declared the winner; who wants to see that?
7. Ronda Rousey And Conor McGregor
The top two UFC draws, Ronda Rousey and the “Notorious One” Conor McGregor have made the crossover into the mainstream and in essence, brought the UFC with them. Rousey, an Olympic medalist in Judo with movie star looks to go along with her fierce fighting skills was the first mixed martial arts fighters to make the covers of both Ring magazine and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. She has since parlayed that into a variety of television and movie roles. McGregor, the brash Irishman, may be one of the best trash talkers since Muhammad Ali and is often seen making the rounds on the late night talk shows. Both fighters have done what few have been able to do, they have made the Ultimate Fighting Championship a must see event.
6. The Ultimate Fighter
Reality shows have long taken over the television landscape as one of the most successful formats in the history of medium. All you need is a room full of colorful personalities who are at each other’s throats and you are well on your way to high ratings, so it came as no surprise when the UFC’s brash leader brought this concept into the octagon. While many reality shows are made up of rich housewives screeching at each other over who has the best manicure, or dysfunctional motorcycle builders tossing wrenches at each other, the Ultimate Fighter is a bit different. The yelling and middle school drama are still there, but viewers also get to see these guys and girls get into the octagon and fight it out! What more could anyone ask for?
5. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has exploded over the last decade with studios opening up as fast as Starbucks. Originally practiced in Japan, Jiu Jitsu was adopted and further developed by the Gracie family of Brazil in the mid 1900s and it was one of the Gracie decedents, Royce who brought it to the UFC. In the very first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC1), Royce Gracie, at 175lbs, cruised through the tournament by dominating stronger and heavier fighters. Royce’s performance caused Jiu Jitsu to explode in popularity as everyone wanted to know the secret and before long, almost all UFC fighters became well versed in the style that incorporates a variety of ground maneuvers designed to control an opponent by using his weight and size against him.
4. The Numbers Don’t Lie
While boxing continues to remain the number one draw for pay per view buys, the UFC is again demonstrating that belongs in the conversation as a legitimate mainstream combat sport. While the 2013 fight between two of boxing’s biggest stars, Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, pulled in 2.8 million PPV buys, the UFC was hovering in the neighborhood of 1.65 million for UFC 202 which featured Connor McGregor and Nate Diaz; a number that was up from the 1.6 million garnered from UFC 196. When compared with numbers generated by boxing’s biggest draw, Floyd Mayweather, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is holding its own. In addition to the ever increasing pay per view buys, ticket sales for the UFC’s live matches continue to be on the uptick with numbers in the fifteen to twenty thousand range per event.
3. UFC Fighters Are Ready To Fight Anyone At A Moment’s Notice
While the boxing world waiting around for five years to see Floyd “Money” Mayweather put a beat down on Manny Pacquiao, Nate Diaz took a title fight with Connor McGregor on eleven days’ notice, (and won)! This is truly one of the beauties of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. While there are only a handful of noteworthy boxers at any one time vying for a title, the UFC has a stable of roughly 500 fighters on its roster, and each and every one of them are ready for mortal combat at the drop of a hat. For example, if a big name boxer gets injured, the promoters, not wanting to lose out on their payday, will postpone the fight. In the UFC, if a big name fighter gets injured, the company can select from a variety of other big name fighters like Diaz who are more than willing to step up to the plate. In the end, the fight goes on…
2. Dana White Is A Genius
The moment Dana White and the Fertitta brothers purchased the Ultimate Fighting Championship in ’91, their number one goal was to make mixed martial arts a mainstream sport; to say they have succeeded is a grand understatement. In the beginning, they fought bans from politicians and television networks alike who viewed the UFC as no more than “human cock-fighting.” Such a label was not really a stretch when considering the fact the first mixed martial arts fights lacked any rules or regulation, and things like violent kicks to the head of a downed opponent were commonplace. While early UFC contests drew only a handful of diehard martial arts fans to small venues with little to no television coverage, present contests sell out major arenas around the world and pay per view buys are in the millions of dollars; subsequently turning the Ultimate Fighting Championship into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
1. The UFC Just Sold For $4 Billion!
No folks, that is not a typo. On July 11th, 2016, “The Company” announced that it had just sold to a handful of investors for a reported $4 billion; a price tag that far eclipses the sale of any other sports franchise in history. To help put this in perspective. the New York Jets football team sold for $635 million in 2000. One of baseball’s most storied franchises, the Chicago Cubs, sold for $700 million in 1999, and in 2012, the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars sold for $770 million. There have been organizations that have broken the billion dollar stratosphere such as the Manchester United soccer team, $1.47 billion, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, $2 billion. However, the UFC’s sale price absolutely eclipses the Dodgers sale by double; a pretty impressive feat for an organization that was purchased for a lowly $2 million in 2001.