Boxing versus MMA: pound-for-pound



Floyd Mayweather delivers a blow to Conor McGregor in a boxing versus MMA matchup.

Teddy Lewis, Sports Editor

Combat sports, first organized by the Greeks and Romans around the sixth century BC, are one of the only sports from that time still existent today. Today’s sports of boxing and wrestling can both be attributed to people in early civilizations. As time progressed, these ancient styles of combat have evolved into a sport. Boxing is a staple of combat sports and has been popularized beginning in the 17th and 18th centuries. The likes of Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Tyson Fury have all made fortunes off of the sport of boxing and brought eyes to it as well. Boxing certainly dominated the past hundreds of years’ worth of combat sports, but within the last 30 years a different combat sport has become mainstream.

MMA, or mixed martial arts, is a sport that incorporates multiple different types of combat styles. The most common arts that are trained are boxing, wrestling, karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and muay thai. In the mid-90s, MMA started with private corporations like the UFC and Pride putting on tournament style events that soon became popular and produced fan favorite athletes. Since these points the UFC has taken over the MMA scene, producing superstars like Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor and Georges St. Pierre. Thus, the argument of boxing vs MMA has been a common dispute between fans as the popularity of MMA has risen.

Boxing is a sport with deep roots, popular throughout most of our country’s life span. During the 20s and Great Depression, boxing was a way for athletes to make real money. Decades later, with the presence of the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali, boxing began to become a legitimate business with promoters hosting shows and pay-per-view events being offered as a way to watch from home. Mike Tyson brought even more eyes to the sport with his otherworldly power knocking out most opponents. He also became a global superstar and drew attention from the media. But the sport itself has fallen off in the past decade due to arrogant promoters and declining attention. There is no unified organization of boxing, rather many different promoters. This makes matchmaking a struggle because fans don’t always get the bout they want, giving less attention to the athletes. Also, with no one organization, the so-called ‘world championship’ can’t really be a certain matter.

MMA, a relatively new combat sport, has been popularized in the past 30 years. In the United States, the UFC really took control. UFC started with their first event labeled UFC 1, a tournament-style competition with no weight classes and few rules, athletes with backgrounds in all different martial arts competing in one night. Since UFC 1 there have been 282 more pay-per-views, many champions, actual weight classes, and it has produced some extraordinary bouts, moments, and people. For the fans, the UFC can be appealing because there are official rankings and matchmaking must happen unlike boxing where matchmaking is never certain.

Which sport is better? Well, it is hard to really know with both sports having loyal fan bases, but in terms of pay-per-view buys, the UFC over the past couple of years has sold the most. Both sports do have their pros and cons, but at the end of the day both have provided years of fantastic entertainment and legendary bouts.