Thursday, 18 March 2010

6 Reasons Why MMA Will Never Defeat Boxing

Cj Swaby Sends Word

Mixed Martial Arts, affectionately know as MMA has really come of its own lately. MMA Clubs have been popping up in the UK like daffodils in Spring. Before I get into the meat of this article, let me state my allegiance. I love boxing. Have been involved in it for well over fifteen years now. But that's not the reason I think MMA has a tremendously (yes, tremendously)long way to travel before it even touches the heels of boxing.

Let me also confess something else, I like a bit of MMA. Randy Couture is one of my all time favourite fighters, and it was the great man himself that got me interested into freestyle wrestling. I mean, you'll even find me down at London Shoot Fighters switching levels, shooting for a single leg take down, or riding the pipe to a double leg flare on occasion. Even against my better judgment, you may find me sitting in the stalls at the Troxy taking in Utlimate Challenge.

Now, my personal preference has nothing to do with the fact why I think MMA could not K.O Boxing in the UK (not anytime soon at least).It's to do with the infrastructure of each. MMA and Boxing are two very different animals indeed. I think the disparity between the two in the UK will become obvious for anyone willing to see past all the UFC hype, and will need to be addressed for MMA to grow and learn from boxing's mistakes, plus borrow from what boxing does extremely well.

1) Boxing has strong Amateur Roots

Boxing Clubs are often an integral part of the community. According to the A.B.A London Website there are 19 Clubs in London alone affiliated to the ABA London. Compare this to the dedicated MMA clubs in london and the difference in presence alone is obvious (this is not even considering clubs nationwide).

Boxing has annual regional championships, National Championships and others (to name but a few) for the Novice and Open Class Amateur to participate in.

Boxing has a strong rehab connection. There are schemes that cater for 'disenfranchised youths' and ex-offenders to try and keep them on the straight and narrow. The NHS even has referral schemes for Mental Health, Four-Weight World Champion Duke McKenzie, runs a successful 12 week scheme in Croydon which recently featured on the BBC and in the Big Issue.

For MMA to flourish and reach its full potential, it cannot be just a spectator sport. It needs to have strong grass roots to provide the next pool of talent, plus give back to the community and get involved so that it has that loyal support, and is not just the 'Next big thing' that dies a sudden death.

2) You can Box for England at the Olympics, You can't MMA for your country

This has to do with organisational infrastructure on a National and International level. If they are invovled in sport children and adults aspire to represent their country, as a media spectacle and rallying the nation together (a political agenda - but don't get me started), sport is a perfect vehicle for that.

Even if you don't make it to the Olympics you can still represent your country, and this only adds value to you as a Boxer should you deem to go professional.

3) The UK has a strong Pro Boxing system in place

Pro Boxing is a business. So is Pro MMA. Take this test, as this is an eye opener in itself. Name me 5 Millionaire UK MMA Fighters (didn't take you long did it?) Now name me 5 Millionaire UK Boxers (you see where I'm going right?).

Plus, Frank Warren, Barry Hearns, Frank Maloney these promoters are legends. They have generated many multi millionnaires in their time. While not all boxers are millionnaires, it can happen. The delivery system is in place.

4) MMA is Alien

MMA as a sport is not as accepted within the general media, while love him or hate him Alex Reid has raised MMA's profile a little (albeit in a WWF / WWE type style). Up and Down the UK the names of David Haye, Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton are more likely to have been heard off than their UK MMA counterparts.

5) Royal Seal of Approval & Backed By Armed Forces

The Duke of Edinburgh is the Patron Saint of the ABA - can't get better than Royal seal of approval. With this backing comes vested interests (commercial and otherwise). MMA would benefit from a figure head of good standing to get behind it. Boxing is also integral to parts of the British Armed Forces, and they have boxing teams which actively compete.

These are just 5 reasons I think MMA need to address for it to fully realise its full potential here in the UK. I think a strong grass roots amateur base is key. The sport needs to become accessible, not just as a viewing medium, but also for people to participate. Once the it has truly integrated into the social fabric of this country it will become unstoppable. However, let me reiterate, Boxing and MMA while both combat sports, are two very distinct animals that could actually benefit from each other, and help each other to excel. Just my two pennies worth.

The 6th Reason I'll leave up to you.


Jez said...

Errmm...there're only five reason there Cj.

Coach Cj Swaby said...

Thanks Jez(good looking out). Notice how I swiftly modified it!

Anonymous said...

The main reason why MMA (in it's current form) will not replace boxing is that it just not as attractive as a spectator sport. You cant always be guaranteed an entertaining boxing bout but theres always at least one fight on the card that will get the crowd going, which cant be said for a lot of MMA tournaments.

I have been doing martial arts for most of my life, Karate, Boxing, BJJ and JKD. I have 3 sons, two of them regularly compete in BJJ tournaments. By proxy my wife knows a bit about the fighting arts and I asked her opinion of a top MMA fight which turned out to be fought mainly on the ground and she said "it looks like an arse sniffing competition". I dare say that there are a lot of people who share her opinion!