Friday, 8 June 2012

Fans Article: By Alex Marasco

Is MMA a threat to the noble art?

In recent years we have seen a wave of support for the new sport of MMA (mixed martial arts) particularly the franchise of UFC (ultimate fighting championship). MMA or UFC sees two men from multiple disciplines such as: Boxing, Tae-kwon do, Karate and Kickboxing put inside an octagon cage for three x five minute rounds. The brutallity and blood caused by elbows, knees, kicks and lots of other methods of beatings, has attracted hundreds of thousands of fans world wide. These questions have been seeming to crop up more and more recently. Is MMA something Boxing should be concerned about? Will the new generation of fight fans turn to cage fighting instead of the ancient art of Boxing? Just how big is MMA in comparison to boxing? I will try to answer these questions honestly and fairly, backing my views up with facts and figures.

UFC is a franchise owned by Lorenzo Ferrita and run by Dana White. This company is believed to have all of the best MMA fighters in the world signed under one promotional company. Therefore the top ranked fighters will always fight their mandatories or face being thrown out of the business. Many say this is a problem for Boxing and would argue we never get the greatest fights look at Mayweather v Pacquiao and Lewis v Bowe fights that could easily of grosses $200 million yet never seem to materialise. I happen to disagree, The Super Six was a tournament set over two years where the 6 best Super Middleweight boxers in the world battled eachtoher to be crowned King of the SMW. Going back a few years now we had Leonard, Hearns, Hagler and Duran battling eachother for what seemed like forever. These are all top fights.
Secondly it has been said that more people are willing to pay to see a UFC event than the amount willing to pay to see a Boxing show. The people who say this are severely misguided and plainly wrong! For instance, the record PPV audience for a UFC event is 298,000 no doubt a very lucrative show. However, Floyd Mayweather Jnr (the equivalent to UFC bigboys) consistantly sells upto and over 2 million PPV's with long time rival Manny Pacquaio selling over a million most fights. Another example is Tyson Fury 5 million people tuned in to see him fight Derek Chisora in only a British and Commonwealth Title fight (a level of fighting which UFC would never broadcast). Those figures clearly show the public are more willing to put their hands in their pockets and spend their time watching Boxing than they are for UFC.
Another arguement is that MMA is a much more difficult sport to participate in and the level of skill is higher. this is believed because fighters not only have to deal with the threat of punches but also have to contend with the threat of kicks (high and low), knees, elbows and the constant danger of being taken to the floor. However in my opinion and i stress this is an opinion the fact you can use all of the above and have to contend with all of the above makes it a less skilled sport. For instance if you are permitted to kick, punch, grapple, elbow and knee your opponent then there are not many rules. It is much like a fight on a street corner or in a bar where anything goes in order to gain a victory. In boxing we have two gloves as our weapons and the size of a head and torso as our target. Clearly our opponents will be covering most of that target up, which in turn makes it increasingly difficult to score or land a punch. To find a way through and score these shots is an highly talented skill. Add to this your opponents bobbing and weaving and slipping and ducking of punches it seems near impossible to land. As you watch on TV the professionals make it look simple to do and make it look as if anybody could put on a pair of gloves and be able to box. This couldnt be further from the truth, boxing is an art, a skill and anybody with no experience or natural boxing brain would find it extremely difficult to land a punch or to avoid a punch. Making Boxing a much harder and skilled competitor sport than MMA.
Lastly Boxing is like it, love it or hate it has always been a sport which can offer youngster a chance to earn discipline, skill, mentoring and an alternative to hanging around on the streets. Mothers and Fathers across the world will encourage their children to join a boxing gym for these reasons, aswell as knowing it is a safe enviroment where every fighter wears head guards, big gloves and is watched maticulously for their own safety. Would those parents be so quick to send their children to a gym where they are watching and being locked up in a cage and told to pummel and grapple eachother untill one fighter sumbits or is knocked out? I think we all know the answer is a big NO.
To conclude, boxing has been around as we know it for 200 years and is thought to go back thousands of years. In an increasingly Health and Safety conscious society we have progressed with that, bringing in every measure possible to make sure the fighters safety is paramount. My concern for MMA and UFC alike is that in a sport where elbows and knees to the head are seen as great and huge men wear tiny gloves whilst locked inside a cage, there is no possible way to ensure a fighters long term safety. I believe the sport will be banned certainly in Britain within the next 10 years.

Is MMA a threat to the ancient art of Boxing? No

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