I had a pretty strange feeling come over me late last Saturday night. For several different reasons, I was unable to watch the broadcast of Bellator 43, which was a pretty solid event. A lot of my problems had to deal with everyone watching Manny Pacquiao fight Shane Mosley in what was billed as the biggest boxing fight of the year. As strange as it sounds, I realized I would rather watch a small event from a small MMA promotion on a (let’s be honest) obscure network rather than watching one of the biggest boxing events of the year live on Pay-Per-View. And as always, the “boxing vs. MMA” debate/war/whatever has popped up again following a big boxing attraction. Well, if you’d do me a kindness fans and friends, allow me to give my thoughts on the situation.
I’ll start off by saying this: Mixed Martial Arts is the only sport I follow with regularity. I watched the MLB World Series back when the Houston Astros were in it, because I’ve lived in Houston almost all of my live and I’m very proud of that fact. I watch the Super Bowl every year, because honestly, you kinda just get this feeling of obligation to watch at least part of it, you know? I had a passing flirtation with basketball in the 90’s when the Chicago Bulls were gobbling up championships left and right. And those of you that have known me for awhile know that I used to be a super-huge pro wrestling fan.
So, with all that said, you would think I wouldn’t have much to say about Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley. In all honesty, I don’t. Instead, I’d like to talk about this “boxing vs. MMA” war that always seems to pop up after a big boxing event.
Let’s start with something simple: is it fair to compare boxing to Mixed Martial Arts? Sure it is. They’re two different sports, but they’re both combat sports. Like every combat sport, they have their own unique set of rules and guidelines, and it’s the fighters that can excel within those guidelines that become the best in the world. A great athlete is a great athlete, but until you spend years and years training in the sport you’ve chosen to compete in, getting accustomed to all the nuances and subtleties and rules of your sport, you’ll never ascend to “best in the world” status.
I respect all combat athletes, boxers included. I think it’s very tough to be a pro boxer. I think it’s very tough to be a Mixed Martial Artist. I think it’s very tough to be an athlete, period. I think it’s fine to make fantasy match-ups comparing the best boxers to the best Mixed Martial Artists, but when you start to have unwavering, unflinching opinions on who could beat who and why… that’s when fun discussion turns into unabashed arguing.
In all honesty, my feelings on this “boxing vs. MMA” war very closely mirrors my feelings on the “pro wrestling vs. MMA” war. Boxing and MMA are two very different things. It’s fun to compare the two and debate fantasy match-ups, but they’re still two very different things. So don’t go around thinking MMA is killing boxing, or if you’re a boxing purist, don’t spout off about MMA being a barbaric sport. Respect, honesty, and civil discussion is the way to raise interesting points and get some good and (dare I say it) enlightening debate going.
So, am I a boxing expert? I am not. Am I a Mixed Martial Arts expert? I’m not a fan of stroking my own ego, and people a lot smarter than me have been doing what I’ve been doing for a lot longer, so I’ll say no to that as well. But I am an MMA fan and, although it sure sounds like an oxymoron, I’m also a realist and an optimist. The realist in me knows that boxing isn’t going anywhere, and neither is MMA. The optimist in me hopes that this fact will allow us to compare and contrast both sports without bashing either of them or turning this into some big war that ultimately serves no purpose. Like what you like, fans and friends, and respect that other people may like something different. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.
Of course, that’s just my own opinion. So, fans and friends, any thoughts?