As the UFC (and all of MMA) has grown in popularity here in the U.S., there have been common comparisons made between the two. More specifically, which fighters would beat each other in a head to head competition?
It’s as useless as saying that LaDanian Tomlinson would get his face smashed into the boards playing hockey or that Kobe Bryant would lose a homerun contest against Albert Pujols. Elite athletes have honed their focus into a specific set of skills, routines and abilities that don’t translate into other realms of competition.
For the most part, if an elite athlete had taken a different path as a child he would have been able to succeed in a variety of other domains due to his innate athleticism. But as a professional athlete in one of the major American sports, the merits of one’s talent and ability aren’t directly compared to those playing a completely different game. Yet, fans of the UFC and of boxing bicker about which fighters would win if they squared off against each other.
I have the shocking answer ready for every UFC fighter vs. professional boxer scenario: the UFC fighter wins in an MMA contest, and the boxer wins in a boxing match. Would there be exceptions to the rule? Absolutely there would be, but it would hold true in the vast majority of instances.
There was some buzz a year or two ago about UFC champion and MMA pound for pound stalwart Anderson Silva entering a boxing contest with former boxing pound for pound king Roy Jones Jr. There have also been rumors of more recent boxing pound for pound champion Floyd Mayweather hanging up his gloves so he could pursue a career in MMA.
All of the conjecture needs to stop. Roy Jones, one of the best boxers of his generation, beating a UFC fighter in a boxing ring proves nothing about the quality of competition or the talent pool in either sport. Floyd Mayweather getting submitted via rear naked choke in the first two minutes of a UFC cage match doesn’t either. Just as Michael Jordan batting .200 in minor league baseball proved nothing about baseball having better athletes or being more difficult than basketball.
Boxing and the UFC are different sports. But ultimate fighting is a mixture of fighting disciplines, including boxing, I can hear the critics saying already. Yes, and a soccer goalie and hockey goalie both protect their nets from an opponent’s shots, but I don’t think Martin Brodeur is going to be on any World Cup sidelines anytime soon.
Fans of these two sports need to let them be different from one another. The bottom line is that each requires a different set of skills and provides a different form of entertainment. As a fan of both boxing and the UFC, I can sit down and appreciate either one. Can’t you do the same?