Almost every year, combat-sports fans are treated to some big-name star from either MMA or boxing going out of their way to get attention by asking for a fight from the biggest star in the other sport, seemingly just to prove a point about how much better one craft is than the other.
Unfortunately, it just turns out to look like those stars are trying to grab attention for whatever reason they feel like, and it works in getting the attention of the drama-loving media every time. Well, media members, I’m begging you to stop.
Just think about the history of the endless debate and the history of how terrible the actual fights end up being.
The issue some fans have is that it’s not even so much about how they don’t want boxers to get into MMA (or vice versa), but the problem arises when a boxer thinks they can use their one skill to try to prove it can beat the multiple skills of a mixed martial artist. Is that possible? Of course, but what does it prove? Someone with more skills is still more likely to beat someone with less skills.
People a while back had a slightly differing point of view that revolved around how exciting and dynamic the two sports may be.
Some of you may remember the famous interaction from 2007 that brought that debate to a head, when UFC color commentator Joe Rogan was brought on ESPN to discuss the rise of MMA and the UFC, and whether or not boxing is in the rear-view mirror. He was joined by boxing promoter Lou Dibella. The two men got into a heated back-and-forth on what exactly the rise of the UFC means for boxing:
As you can see from this video, alone, the attitude boxing fans had of MMA was very dismissive, to the point that people in the mainstream still had a view of MMA as “human cockfighting,” which was once famously coined by Congressman John McCain (R-AZ), who wasn’t very fond of the sport back in the 90s, but whose actions led to a push for more regulation to make it a much safer sport. His role was so significant in influencing the direction of MMA that UFC President Dana White once called Senator McCain “the guy who started the UFC” for his role in the sanctioning of MMA in individual states, which began the growth of the sport heading into the 21st century.
In 2010, former pro boxer James Toney, who was a champion in multiple weight classes throughout his career, famously challenged former UFC champion Randy Couture to an MMA fight, wanting to prove how his one-punch knockout power can finish an MMA fighter whose main craft isn’t boxing. This challenge culminated in a pay-per-view bout at UFC 118, where Couture won by first-round submission in a pretty meaningless fight (other than in terms of how much money Toney made in a losing effort). Frankly, it was a train wreck that should have never happened, and it probably convinced a lot of pro boxers to stay in their own lane, instead of trying to prove how much better boxing is than MMA. This will be an endless debate that goes nowhere.
Well, here we are six years later and, apparently, fighters from both sides still aren’t listening to the plea from fans to stop it with all the crossover attempts to prove a point that won’t convince either side of anything. It also hasn’t deviated from an attempt at trying to make both opponents money, while also getting attention for their brands.
Retired undefeated boxing great and multiple-time champion Floyd Mayweather is hyping a possible boxing match with UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor. Their interactions are mainly rumors at this point, which Mayweather boasts about starting. Nothing is actually finalized or official as of yet, though. Mainly, it’s just a lot of talk of the fight being “possible,” which is the narrative coming out of Mayweather’s camp. There are other reports coming out that it’s now apparently set to be official, according to Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports. Of course, UFC President Dana White had to come out and immediately shoot down that story, telling radio host Dan Patrick that if Mayweather wants to fight McGregor, he’ll have to call White.
But that hasn’t slowed down the hype train being revved up by the potential participants. It’s even gotten to the point that McGregor is tweeting out posters promoting the fight, as if it’s really going to happen:
If anybody follows “The Notorious” one on Twitter, they know he gets a ton of attention no matter what he tweets. His unorthodox methods get people buzzing, because he’s different than the usual hype machine.
At the end of the day, the feeling many fans get from these actions are that two fighters from different sports, and both of whom possess really big egos, are just trying to one-up each other and see who has the bigger ego, while trying to build their reputations as hype machines. Nate Diaz, the last man to beat McGregor, thinks it’s all a big publicity stunt in an attempt to distract from his submission victory over the Irishman at UFC 196. McGregor did what many perceive as a similar attempt recently, with his retirement announcement, which he ended up taking back when he realized he was being removed from the biggest fight card of 2017.
Frankly, this kind of stuff from McGregor doesn’t help his relationship with the UFC (which is something I feared earlier this month), because instead of focusing on whatever upcoming fight he will have next, which will probably be a bout with the winner of Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo at UFC 200, he’s talking about boxing matches against a championship boxer who’s never lost a fight in his career. In fact, the idea is so preposterous that longtime boxing trainer Freddie Roach has mentioned how McGregor “has not done well” when training for this so-called upcoming fight, but he “would love to help him.” In an interesting twist, Roach admits that Mayweather actually asked him to train McGregor, which makes this whole story even more bizarre, even though Roach thinks Mayweather will outbox McGregor “all day long,” anyway.
Last time I checked, you can’t create a fighter with good boxing skills and turn him into a world champion to the point where he can defeat an undefeated, multiple-time world boxing champion. If that doesn’t smell of a bad publicity stunt to anybody, they probably haven’t been watching combat sports for very long.
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