Fightin' Words

A mixed martial arts blog about UFC, Bellator and other MMA promotions and fighters.


MMA still not at boxing's level

Manny Pacquiao, right, connects with a punch against

Manny Pacquiao, right, connects with a punch against Timothy Bradley, in the third round of their WBO welterweight title fight in Las Vegas. (June 9, 2012) (Credit: AP)

The joke on Twitter and sports talk radio Saturday night and into Sunday morning after that questionable decision in the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight was that UFC president Dana White was having a good laugh at the judging.

That likely isn't true, as those of you who pay enough attention to mixed martial arts would attest. White is a "huge boxing fan," he always says.

But it does underscore one point about the two sports' popularity levels still in the United States. The common thought is that MMA is stealing boxing fans, and that decisions such as the one that gave Bradley the win over Pacquiao in a fight no one but two judges thinks he won are pushing them out the door.

That may be true in some instances, but ask yourself this question: when there's a bad decision announced in an MMA fight, does that conversation rarely make it out of MMA circles? Sure, Twitter blows up, but Twitter blows up if Selena Gomez puts her left shoe on before her right shoe on a Thursday afternoon when she usually does that strictly on Fridays.

Does that MMA outrage spill over to sports talk radio? Is ESPN clamoring to get one of their analysts or writers to call into SportsCenter to discuss the judges' decision. Will it have people at Sunday services talking? Will the bagel shops and bakeries be a buzz with the conversation?

No. That type of conversation usually stays within the niche parameters of MMA fans.

For MMA to elevate to the new combat sport of kings, it will take quite a few more years. The Fox deal is a good start. But it's still a relatively new sport when you look at it against the backdrop of sports culture in this country. Football coaches are still judged against Vince Lombardi, who coached his last NFL game 43 years ago.

MMA's history isn't that rich, but it's getting there.

So if boxing is dead, as Twitter trend No. 4 in the U.S. at 2:15 a.m. Sunday suggests, keep this in mind: boxing will always have fight night.

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