Boxing Vs. MMA – The Great Rivalry


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Boxing has held the title as the world’s most popular combat sport for many decades. We’ve watched many great battles over the years on HBO, Pay Per View and regular television channels. We’ve also witnessed countless inspiring displays of endurance ,toughness and heart as new champions have risen to the top and old ones have have fallen.

Boxing is a true art form and a great sport; Beautiful to watch, the”Sweet Science” is a game of angles, technique and finesse that enables it’s athletes to punch with more skill, leverage and power than anyone else on the planet.

Not too long ago, most of us believed that the best boxers were the best fighters in the world. That was until a thin looking man from Brazil stepped into the octagon for the first time way back in the early 90’s. Royce Gracie did things inside the cage on that historic night in Denver, Colorado that shocked the world of combat sports.

“How could this guy win a fight without barely throwing a punch?” I remember asking my father who is a 3 time Canadian karate/kickboxing champion. He seemed as baffled as I was at Royce Gracie’s strategy and unorthadox fighting style.

It was crazy! The take downs Royce Gracie attacked with; the insane amount of relaxed control he seemed to have over every one of his opponents once the fight hit the ground; the chokes and arm locks he unleashed over and over again to submit his foes absolutely smashed the thought that boxing skill alone was enough to succeed in a realistic fighting situation.

Nearly twenty years after that first UFC event, MMA has done what few believed it could: It has risen to the point where it has become as popular, arguably even more popular than the great sport of boxing.

This rivalry –which is great for both sports in my opinion–, between these two combat sports has created some animosity between the athletes, supporters and fans that follow or participate in each of them. Many verbal attacks have been made in the media by both the boxing and MMA communities in an effort to discredit one another in the eyes of the public; A high percentage of those attacks have no merit, make little sense and obviously come from blatantly ignorant minds.

Some boxing advocates state that there is no skill in mixed martial arts. Whoa! Obviously they haven’t spent more than five minutes in a wrestling practice or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training session. Five minutes!…Five minutes is all it would take to change their minds forever, I can personally guarantee that.

The truth is that there is more technique in mixed martial arts than a person could learn in ten lifetimes spent training; countless wrestling techniques, thousands of BJJ techniques; and a ton of boxing/kickboxing attacks and defenses are out there to learn. Add to that the fact that combat disciplines are are always evolving and it’s obvious that the learning process is never ending.

On the other hand, MMA’ers are totally wrong when they say pro-boxing skill is useless in mixed martial arts competition. There are many benefits to being a great boxer, all of which a skilled fighter can carry over into their battles inside the cage especially when they have some understanding of take downs and ground fighting. There’s no benefit of punching harder? No benefit in being able to defend punches more effectively or keeping more relaxed and balanced while punching with a fantastic amount of leverage? C’mon of course there is!

I’ve read quotes from fighters saying that the boxer’s jab is useless in MMA. I completely disagree with that statement! My jab has been one of my most effective weapons in every single one of my MMA fights including my fight with Josh Koscheck in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A good jab controls range, disguises follow up attacks, protects the fighter that’s throwing it and can really hurt its recipient when thrown with the correct leverage and body positioning.

However some things being said have some truth to it: Many mixed martial artists still don’t punch very well. However, they often compensate for that weakness with an intelligent game plan that plays to their strengths. There is also truth to the statement that pure boxers would have almost no chance of lasting more than one round in mixed martial arts competition. The days are gone when any a fighter can be effective with skill in only one range of combat.

We need to look past any rivalry and see how much the sports compliment each other. If mixed martial artists would spend more time training in the art of boxing, they’ll realize how technical it actually is, invest more time training in it and we will without a doubt see some cleaner looking and more effective punching in future MMA fights. Vice versa, if skilled boxers step into martial arts gyms to try out some BJJ or wrestling, they’ll see how much fun it can be to learn the vast amount of techniques that are out there, and see that it is much more than just rolling around with sweaty dudes. It’s when the latter situation happens that we’ll start to see some pretty slick punchers stepping into the Octagon to do battle.

In terms of fan support, people will continue to watch the fights that excite and intrigue them. It’s up to the MMA and Boxing promoters to put together the fights that the fans want to see. There are some very exciting potential match-ups in the sport of boxing as well as mixed martial arts but as we all know sometimes it’s the fights that slip underneath the radar that surprise and have us jumping up out of our seats with excitement. I love those ones!

As a spectator I find MMA more entertaining than boxing. I love the fact that it’s not uncommon for underdogs to win fights. With striking, take downs and ground work to worry about at all times, mistakes are made often and in MMA one mistake could mean defeat. Another cool thing is that you don’t have to knock your opponent out to win. A slick submission is a thing of beauty when applied successfully.

Are you an MMA fan? A boxing fan? or do you enjoy them both?

Here’s a few videos focusing on the MMA vs. Boxing debate:


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