(Image via https://twitter.com/knuckles_stan)
Ireland has always produced fighters of the highest standard. In the boxing world, the likes of Barry McGuigan, Jimmy McLarnin, and Steve Collins rose through the ranks to become fierce and highly respected competitors in the sport. Likewise, in the MMA sphere, Conor McGregor is an icon who has managed to pave the way for other fighters from the Emerald Isle, including the latest star on the scene right now in Ian Machado Garry. But which sport is actually better?
Well, while the debate will rumble on forever, there is a strong argument to suggest that MMA has overtaken boxing in recent years. Viewing figures are through the roof, more people bet on UFC than ever before, and the competition is arguably more competitive than ever. Some boxing fans are yet to be convinced, though, but competitions like the UFC have experienced huge momentum for a reason and continue to pull in more fans from around the world.
For many lovers of combat sports, while the admiration for boxing will always be there, the MMA scene is now where it’s undoubtedly at. In fact, the sweet science’s reputation is at an all-time low following the prominence of farcical promotions like the YouTube boxing scene, while even a world-famous heavyweight in the shape of Tyson Fury is taking part in an exhibition fight against one of the UFC’s finest, Francis Ngannou, instead of fighting Anthony Joshua or Oleksandr Usyk. Boxing isn’t in great shape and there is a strong argument to suggest that MMA is now the better sport. Here are even more reasons why below.
MMA involves far more disciplines
While mastering boxing takes years and it does require the skill level that many MMA fighters struggle to ever reach, making it in the MMA world is arguably far harder given the amount of disciplines fighters have to grasp. Mixed Martial Arts is a hybrid combat sport incorporating techniques from many disciplines, including boxing. Fighters also have to master other areas, such as wrestling, judo, jiu jitsu, karate, muay Thai, and kickboxing, thus having to understand a diverse range of techniques. While boxing stances vary and fighters can offer variety in terms of their style, a well-rounded UFC fighter has had to fine-tune their craft for years and immerse themselves in more than one discipline in order to be at the very top of their game.
The ground game is tough to grasp
Boxing is anything but simple. Fighters have to nail their footwork, head movement is vitally important, while other aspects of the sport, such as taking shots, also require years of training and taking part in plenty of fights. MMA is far more complex, though, with its ground game aspect separating it out from boxing, particularly as fighters have to be skilled in takedowns, grappling, and submissions. The technical skill required in competitions like the UFC creates fighters of the highest standard. There is a reason why the likes of Tyson Fury haven’t opted for the Octagon instead of the boxing ring when coming up against Francis Ngannou and it’s essentially due to the fear of losing. Fury would get dismantled in minutes, possibly even seconds, and he knows it. Of course, the two sports are different anyway and a Fury loss in the cage wouldn’t prove anything, but it says a lot that Francis Ngannou has made the transition over to boxing fairly comfortably, while Fury, plus other boxers, aren’t too keen on doing the same.
The UFC has done a better job marketing the sport
(Image via https://twitter.com/boxingscene)
Away from the technical side of both sports is the undoubtedly excellent job the likes of Dana White has done in bringing the UFC to mass audiences. Boxing used to be the undisputed king of combat sports, but the tide has turned and the rise of mixed martial arts has been impossible to ignore. UFC viewing figures are through the roof, stacked events are being held all around the world, fighters are now becoming household names, and some clever marketing has enabled the sport to grow exponentially. Meanwhile, many boxing fans are disillusioned with the state of the sport, fighters are testing positive for a variety of substances on a regular basis, supposed professional boxers in the shape of Jake Paul are now earning more money than esteemed champions, the best isn’t always fighting the best, and the power promoters have and the apparent corruption in boxing is holding the sport back now more than ever before.
The UFC has one world champion per division
For boxing fans, particularly casuals, boxing can become a tad confusing once looking at the various divisions and their respective champions. Likewise, there are so many top-level sanctioning bodies, such as the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Organization (WBO) and International Boxing Federation. This alone makes the competition appear saturated, with fighters everywhere claiming they’re the best and a rather confusing landscape being created in the process. The UFC, on the other hand, is under one umbrella and has only one legitimate top-level sanctioning body. A clearer structure creates a sport that fans can grasp quicker, therefore creating a better all-round product and enabling fans to fully immerse themselves in the sport with little confusion around who is the best.