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Although the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is relatively new compared to professional boxing, MMA has evolved into a very entertaining and increasingly more popular combat sport. MMA continues to cement its footprint in the world of sports entertainment while also causing more and more people to see that it is much more difficult to be a mixed martial artist than it is to be a professional boxer.For thousands of years combat has been a way for humanity to settle different disputes. Whether it be a dispute between two individual people or a dispute between entire nations. The world and its inhabitants have experienced their fair share of violence and war. Even today America is at war with individuals who are fighting for what they believe to be the right cause. Combat throughout the centuries has evolved. From huge armies marching on one another on a large battlefield to missiles being fired at a target from half way across the world, the way people fight has changed. Now, in today’s society, combat has evolved into something else; a sport.The world of combat sports is vast and diverse. Individuals from all different disciplines of martial arts compete against one another to decide who amongst them the best fighter is. Two of the most popular combat sports in the world today are boxing and mixed martial arts. Ever since the emergence of mixed martial arts, it has been compared with boxing. Which sport is more entertaining and which fighter is more skilled and would win in an actual match?Boxing is a combat sport and martial art in which two people fight using their fists for competition. Boxing is typically supervised by a referee engaged in during a series of one- to three-minute intervals called rounds, and boxers generally of similar weight. Fighters will wear boxing shoes and gloves that usually weigh 16 ounces. There are three ways to win; if the opponent is knocked out and unable to get up before the referee counts to ten seconds (a knockout, or KO) or if the opponent is deemed too injured to continue (a Technical Knockout, or TKO), or if there is no stoppage of the fight before an agreed number of rounds, a winner is determined either by the referee’s decision or by judges’ scorecards.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that allows a wide variety of fighting techniques and skills, from a mixture of martial arts and non-martial arts traditions, to be used in competitions. The rules allow the use of both striking as well as grappling techniques, both while standing and on the ground. Such competitions allow martial artists of different backgrounds to compete. A lot of the anti-MMA crowd will say it’s too barbaric. Of course this is mainly due to ignorance of the rules. MMA has rules just like boxing. There is no biting, poking, low blows, or any of that sort just as it is in boxing. MMA is a sport, not professional wrestling.The world’s largest mixed martial arts organization, the UFC, began in 1993 as a tournament to crown the world’s best fighting style, and featured everything from boxers to a sumo wrestler. There were no weight classes, gloves or rounds. There was no judging and virtually no rules. The only way to win was by knocking out your opponent or making them quit, which is precisely what a scrawny jiu-jitsu expert named Royce Gracie did. Dozens of states quickly enacted laws banning “no-holds-barred” fighting, abhorred by the thought of humans fighting inside an eight-sided cage. Even though limited rules and gloves were eventually introduced, the organization stood on the brink of bankruptcy.Enter Dana White, who back in 1995 was the owner of three Las Vegas-based boxing facilities, named The Gym who also started his own sports-management company, managing pro boxing prospects. With a desire to push further into the combat-sports arena, White, along with his childhood friends, Las Vegas casino owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, became interested in buying the UFC. At the time, UFC allowed athletes to apply boxing, wrestling, grappling, kicking and other martial-arts moves inside a referee-supervised, eight-sided ring. The bouts, which initially set out to determine which combat discipline – boxing, karate, jujitsu or wrestling – was the best, quickly drew attention from young male viewers because of the sport’s no-holds-barred action. But it also drew the ire of critics who felt the sport was too violent. In 1996, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who referred to UFC as human cockfighting, began a successful lobbying effort to have its events barred by every state athletic commission. By 2000, the sport was virtually banned across the country. The political backlash led cable operators, who had reaped the revenue benefits of mixed-martial-arts events in the mid-1990s, to pull all such events off pay-per-view (PPV). But White saw potential in the UFC brand.

 

The Fertitta brothers’ Zuffa LLC bought UFC for $2 million in 2001, and over the next three years, spent $44 million putting on live events in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other venues around the country and distributing events via PPV, according to UFC officials. UFC’s profile got its biggest boost in 2005 with the launch of the Spike TV reality series The Ultimate Fighter. The series, which pits up-and-coming UFC fighters who live under one roof against one another in a week-to-week elimination tournament — was initially given little on-air support from Spike. White and the Fertitta brothers spent several millions of dollars of their own money to promote the first two seasons of the series, and White himself appeared on the show as its host. Eventually Ultimate Fighter found its audience and has become Spike’s most-watched original series, averaging 1.8 million viewers over its twelve-season run. Each of the Fertittas own 45 percent of Zuffa LLC, while White owns 10 percent. Before the recession hit, the company was estimated to be worth close to $1 billion.There are 17 weight classes or weight divisions for professional male boxers recognized by the Association Boxing Commissions (ABC) and the following sanctioning bodies; International Boxing Federation (IBF), International Boxing Organization (IBO), World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). In comparison there are only 9 weight classes or weight divisions in MMA that are recognized by the California State Athletic Commission, the Nevada Athletic Commission, as well as Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) to include the 36 out of 44 states that have athletic commissions. Having fewer weight classes or divisions makes it much easier on fans to keep track of the different fighters and current scheduled match-ups within the world of MMA. Boxing destroyed the value of championships with so many titles that even the most ardent fans can’t keep them all straight.Training consumes most of a fighters time between matches. Boxers have to know from match to match what type of boxer their opponent is. There are different types of boxers with different strengths and different weaknesses of course, but there are even more challenges for mixed martial artist. Just like a boxer an MMA fighter might be facing a guy with great stand up who can box. This fighter might be light on his feet or he might be a slugger, he might have a great chin or he might have a glass chin. But in addition to that he has to know how well versed his opponent is in wrestling, submissions, as well as kickboxing. Everything that is great about boxing is multiplied by MMA. A mixed martial artist is exactly that; an individual skilled in multiple disciplines of fighting able to engage and defend against an opponent no matter where the fight may take place, standing up or on the ground. MMA basically took the great sport of boxing and incorporated it along with amateur wrestling, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, and other various martial arts disciplines.

The world’s largest mixed martial arts organization, the UFC, began in 1993 as a tournament to crown the world’s best fighting style, featuring everything from boxers to a sumo wrestler. There were no weight classes, gloves or rounds. There was no judging and virtually no rules. The only way to win was by knocking out your opponent or making them quit, which is precisely what a scrawny jiu-jitsu expert named Royce Gracie did. Dozens of states quickly enacted laws banning “no-holds-barred” fighting, abhorred by the thought of humans fighting inside an eight-sided cage. Even though limited rules and gloves were introduced, the organization stood on the brink of bankruptcy.Enter Dana White, who back in 1995 was the owner of three Las Vegas-based boxing facilities, named The Gym who also started his own sports-management company, managing pro boxing prospects. With a desire to push further into the combat-sports arena, White, along with his childhood friends, Las Vegas casino owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, became interested in buying the UFC. At the time, UFC allowed athletes to apply boxing, wrestling, grappling, kicking and other martial-arts moves inside a referee-supervised, eight-sided ring. The bouts, which initially set out to determine which combat discipline – boxing, karate, jujitsu or wrestling – was the best, quickly drew attention from young male viewers because of the sport’s no-holds-barred action. But it also drew the ire of critics who felt the sport was too violent. In 1996, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who referred to UFC as human cockfighting, began a successful lobbying effort to have its events barred by every state athletic commission. By 2000, the sport was virtually banned across the country. The political backlash led cable operators, who had reaped the revenue benefits of mixed-martial-arts events in the mid-1990s, to pull all such events off pay-per-view (PPV). But White saw potential in the UFC brand.The Fertitta brothers’ Zuffa LLC bought UFC for $2 million in 2001, and over the next three years, spent $44 million putting on live events in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other venues around the country and distributing events via PPV, according to UFC officials. UFC’s profile got its biggest boost in 2005 with the launch of the Spike TV reality series The Ultimate Fighter. The series, which pits up-and-coming UFC fighters who live under one roof against one another in a week-to-week elimination tournament — was initially given little on-air support from Spike. White and the Fertitta brothers spent several millions of dollars of their own money to promote the first two seasons of the series, and White himself appeared on the show as its host. Eventually Ultimate Fighter found its audience and has become Spike’s most-watched original series, averaging 1.8 million viewers over its twelve-season run. Each of the Fertittas own 45 percent of Zuffa LLC, while White owns 10 percent. Before the recession hit, the company was estimated to be worth close to $1 billion.

 

There are over 20 other MMA organizations that have been formed due in part to the success of the UFC. In comparison, there are approximately 26 sanctioning bodies in boxing with some considering the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) to be the only legitimate ones and refer to the others as alphabet soup or abbreviations of sanctioning bodies that have sprung up since the 1980s that award what serious boxing fans consider worthless titles.MMA is also better because of price and fight card value. A big match in boxing usually costs a viewer $55 on Pay-Per-View (PPV) while tickets to the actual event can cost up to $2500 for a fight card with maybe 2 good match-ups. In comparison, a MMA PPV costs a viewer $44.95 and tickets will only cost up to $750 for a fight card with at least 3 or 4 interesting matches. According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the top MMA gates of all time occurred on December 31, 2006, when Chuck Liddell beat Tito Ortiz in front of 12,191 paid spectators at MGM Grand Garden Arena. That event grossed $5,397,300. That equates to approximately $442.73 per ticket. Turning to boxing, the top boxing gate of all time was at MGM on May 5, 2007, between Floyd Mayweather and Oscar de la Hoya. That event grossed a staggering $18,419,200, with 17,078 paid attendance. That equates to approximately $1078.53 per ticket. Although there were 4,887 more spectators at the boxing event, even if you added those spectators to the MMA event the total gross revenue would still be less than half that of the boxing event at $7,560,921. MMA has more fights, costs less, and is more exciting than boxing.Like a great predator, The Ultimate Fighting Championship has ruthlessly devoured every potential threat, to the point where last year its events drew more pay-per-view fans than boxing and professional wrestling combined. Headlined by superstars Brock Lesnar, Canadian athlete of the year Georges St-Pierre and Matt Hughes, last July’s UFC 100 card alone was beamed into a staggering 400 million homes worldwide. The UFC brand which includes a hit reality TV show, computer games, a clothing label and a stable of more than 300 fighters is valued at almost $3 billion and has consigned boxing, and its array of weight classes and alphabet soup of sanctioning bodies, to history.

 

Before their matches the MMA fighters will tell their opinions of the match and their opponent. People who are anti-MMA liken these promos to professional wrestling in order to demean MMA. Boxers do the exact same thing but in a more offensive manner. Boxers talk smack with each other and at weigh-ins do the lame chest bumping to try and prove they are a man.On August 28th of 2010, one of MMA’s legends, Randy “The Natural” Couture, fought in a much anticipated match against multiple division champion and future boxing hall of famer James “Lights Out” Toney. Both men were over 40 years old and were well respected in their professions. Before their historic bout, Toney continuously taunted and teased Couture with statements about his inability to take a hit. Couture refrained from getting into a verbal battle with Toney stating that all his talking would be done during the fight. The fight lasted only a couple of minutes with Toney not landing a single blow, getting taken down to the canvas, and being forced to submit due to an arm-triangle choke applied by Couture. The match went to show that a fighter skilled in only boxing could not compete at the same level as a mixed martial artist.Attending a live boxing event differs greatly than attending a live MMA event. During a big-ticket boxing event headlined by Manny Pacquiao, the pacing was awful. There was no energy in the crowd. They had to loop Pacquiao’s music when he came out because he had to walk so far. At MMA events, the crowd arrives early and they get into almost every fight on the show. There isn’t nearly the amount of dead time between matches as in boxing. There are more screens set up in the arena to give spectators a better view.Fighters in both MMA and boxing must always be concerned with the safety of not only themselves but of their opponent’s as well. In MMA, fighters fight wearing 4 to 8 ounce gloves with the fingers free. Boxers wear 10 to 18 ounce gloves with padding covering their entire hands. Because of the extra padding on the boxing glove, more of an area is impacted on a fighter during a match. From 1998 to 2006 there have been 70 boxing related deaths compared to 1 death in MMA. This could be due in part to the length of boxing matches, which sometimes last an hour, compared to a MMA fight which lasts at most 25 minutes.MMA is an improvement over boxing in every way. More and more people are watching MMA due to the amount of talent being showcased on a regular basis. The sport of mixed martial arts is much more entertaining to watch, safer to compete in, and offers a more diverse range of fighting styles to experience than professional boxing. Boxing may be one of America’s pastimes, but MMA is quickly becoming the future of combat sports entertainment.

 

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