Boxing Incapable of Competing With MMA Powerhouse

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By Vlad Kaganovsky

Whether using Pay-Per-View buys (PPV hereafter) or TV ratings and mainstream hype as the litmus test, MMA has unquestionably surpassed boxing as the most popular fight sport. In a short span of about 10 years, the UFC, as the global ambassador of MMA, transformed itself from a bankrupt company into an organization that sells more PPVs than boxing and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) combined. Yet, this does not surprise many in the fight game. Both the structure and marketing of boxing have been heavily criticized in the past, to the point that Dana White, president of the UFC, has stated that the UFC was built upon the mistakes that boxing promoters have made over the years.

From a fan’s perspective, boxing is disgracefully impotent in a very key aspect; namely, showcasing matches that feature the best fighters fighting each other. Whether due to quarreling promoters or the multitude of weight classes and divisions, marquee boxing matches rarely feature the best fighters fighting against each other. Instead, as evidenced most recently in past Saturday’s Mayweather vs. Marquez match, promoters ultimately settle on matches that have the most perceived drawing power but little competitiveness. The Mayweather vs. Marquez fight was completely one-sided, and although official PPV stats aren’t yet known, boxing’s chase for PPV sales coupled with a disregard for the fans’ desire to see the best fighters fight each other, have and will continue to lead to declines in sales for boxing.

MMA in general, and the UFC in particular, attempts to feature the best fighters fighting against each other, creating an incessant desire from the fans to always see the “best of the best” compete against each other. In order to achieve this, the UFC has been able to successfully bring together most of the best fighters in the world. Once contractually bound to the UFC, promoters, agents, and other factors that influence the cards and fights in boxing are removed. When a fan orders a UFC event and witnesses a title fight, they can be sure that the fighters involved are among the top three fighters in that weight class in the world. muay_thai_10

Another glaring problem with boxing, and one that makes it incredibly difficult to promote standout athletes and fights, is the abundance of weight classes and title-granting organizations. Four major sanctioning bodies exist in boxing, each with its own title for every weight.

Furthermore, there are numerous (between 11 for the Olympics and 16 elsewhere) and often-inconsistent weight classes in boxing, compared to the five simple weight classes in MMA. Between all the weight classes and sanctioning bodies, it is extremely challenging for boxing to gain a following from casual fans and inhibits boxing’s ability to attract new fans. Fans need to be able to follow a sport’s key figures and champions without having to diagram a permutations matrix. The simple structure of MMA weight classes (only 5) and the governing body (the UFC or the whichever organization it may be) allows for effective marketing that quickly generates fans.

Whether due to the intrinsic structural flaws in the sport of boxing or the raw mass appeal of mixed martial arts, the numbers show that boxing’s fall from preeminence has arrived and is here to stay. While Mayweather’s last fight against Ricky Hatton generated around 1.5 million PPV buys, UFC 100 generated 1.72 million buys. Yet, comparing event vs. event doesn’t even begin to tell the story of MMA’s dominance over boxing.

Boxing and its promoters can barely muster up one or two shows that are even worthy of a PPV slot per year. Even if their numbers are great for these shows, the UFC has managed to air 10-12 PPV shows for the past two years, with no sign of slowing down. In fact, UFC management is only planning to increase the frequency of UFC PPVs.

Regardless of how epic a boxing match can be, boxing simply can’t compete with the output of MMA with one or two shows a year and they don’t have the ability to promote more shows because their simply isn’t a PPV market, or any market for that matter, to see no-name fighters from so-and-so league with so-and-so title facing off against each other. One can simply argue that an MMA fight is simply more interesting and entertaining than a boxing match due to the various styles and techniques that can be employed, but at this point one need not even make this argument since boxing’s inability to consistently showcase fights that fans want to see has and will continue to lead to boxing’s demise.

Belfort, Franklin set to meet at UFC 103

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By Chad Wuttke

Now that we’ve all recovered from the comedy-turned-bloodbath debut of The Ultimate Fighter 10, we can focus on UFC 103. While this main event fight doesn’t jump off the screen, it is an intriguing bout that could provide a defining moment in the careers of two legendary fighters, Rich Franklin and Vitor Belfort.

Rich Franklin enters this catch-weight bout as a man without a weight division. Following his decision victory over Wanderlei Silva, Franklin still remains a main event fighter with title aspirations. The question is, what weight class?

Having lost twice to middleweight champion Anderson Silva and subsequently moving up to the light heavyweight division with mixed results, Franklin now fights his second fight in a row at a catch-weight of 195 pounds. There is no 195 pound division, so unless one is created, Franklin will have to face the daunting task of moving up to the stacked light heavyweight division where he will surely face both strength and size disadvantages. efrain

Until his hand is forced, Franklin will continue to be fed top 10 ranked opponents and his next opponent is as dangerous as they come.

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort returns to the UFC after two spectacular knockout victories over Matt Lindland and Terry Martin in the now defunct Affliction promotion. Riding that momentum, Belfort now seeks to reestablish himself as a contender in the UFC’s middleweight division.

With his career once again rejuvenated, “The Phenom” is looking to capture the magic he once had when he debuted at UFC 12 over a decade ago. Then only 19, Belfort brought skills to the UFC that fans had never seen before. A black belt in jiu-jitsu with hand speed comparable to Roy Jones Jr., Belfort seemed to be on a path to super-stardom.

Inconsistency inside and outside of the ring have derailed the Belfort train over the years. Performances like the 44 second destruction of Wanderlei Silva and the one-sided loss to Kazushi Sakuraba have left fans asking; “What Vitor will show up?” Now training at Xtreme Couture, Belfort seems to have overcome many of those questions. Still, Belfort has a history of coming up short against top competition and Franklin is definitely a top tier fighter.

In the night’s co-main event, former Pride headhunter Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic takes on the UFC’s latest blue chip prospect, Junior dos Santos. Cro Cop returns to the UFC with a new three fight contract after a controversial victory over Mostapha Al-Turk at UFC ’99 in Germany. In the fight, Cro Cop used an accidental double eye poke to eventually overwhelm Al-Turk for a TKO victory. Cro Cop needs a better performance if he wants to get back in the fan’s good graces. His devastating knockouts in the Pride organization seem like a distant memory.

Junior dos Santos enters the cage riding a wave of momentum. His colossal uppercut knockout of Fabricio Werdum put Dos Santos on the map and after another win at UFC 95 over Steven Struve, dos Santos now looks to move from prospect to contender. A win over a legend like Cro Cop would do just that.

Originally slated as a number one contender match, Martin Kampmann now faces British striker Paul Daley in just a “contender” match after Mike Swick was forced to drop out due to injury. Kampmann holds a robust 15-2 record with a good mixture of knockouts and submissions to his credit while Daley is making his first appearance in the UFC following numerous contests in promotions such as Cage Rage, Strikeforce, and Elite-XC.

Also featured on the main card is a bout between standout wrestlers, Frank Trigg and Josh Koscheck. The 37 year old Trigg, who owns the worst nickname in MMA, Twinkle Toes, makes his return to the UFC after a 4 year hiatus.

Josh Koscheck will be looking to bounce back after being upset by Paulo Thiago at UFC 95. The four-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler has attempted to become more of a standup fighter recently with mixed results.

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In what sets up to be the fight of the night, Tyson Griffin takes on Hermes Franca in an entertaining lightweight tussle. The Xtreme Couture trained Griffin has won five “fight of the night” awards in his last 7 fights.

Also known as an entertaining fighter, Franca brings both exciting Jiu-Jitsu and an awkwardly efficient overhand right to the cage. Following a win over Marcus Aurelio at UFC 90, Franca tore his ACL and had to pull out of a fight with Joe Lauzon. A fight with Griffin will be a solid test for Franca and his rehabilitated knee and will also be a telling sign of where these two fighters stand in a talent rich lightweight division.