UFC Poses No Long Term Threat to Boxing
By Dan Horgan (July 26, 2006)
Well, it’s official: the UFC is now a mainstream sport in America.  With the Mandalay Bay selling out for the Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz card July 8, it has become evident that the UFC is no longer the underground freak sport that it was just ten years ago.  As a matter of fact, the sport is gaining so much momentum that some experts are saying it could lead to the demise of boxing!  However, my fellow boxing fans, fear not.  The UFC will NEVER and I mean NEVER pose a long term threat to the sweet science, and in this article, I will show the many, many reasons why.

We’ve seen this situation played out a million times before: people naturally lean toward what’s new and exciting as opposed to what’s old and trite.  High school boys break up with their childhood sweethearts to go out with the sexy
new girl.  For Superbowl picks, football experts take the highly offensive Colts as opposed to the well rounded Patriots and Steelers.  In boxing, fans tend to support an up and coming prospect as opposed to a well seasoned veteran. The list can go on and on.  What troubles me is how people don’t see that the UFC and boxing can fit into these analogies so perfectly!   It’s clear as day: the UFC is brand new, and boxing has been around as far back as records date; the UFC is pure violence, while boxing remains a thinking man’s sport; and, the UFC has copious pre-fight drama while boxing has unscripted storylines.  The UFC simply offers fun that boxing cannot produce, and that is why it is gaining so much popularity.  However, when it comes to what’s new and exciting, one thing is almost always persistent: it gets old very quickly.

You can mark my words when I say that in ten years, the UFC will not even be as popular as it is today.  Sure, it is growing, but a sport with such little depth can only grow so much.  Part of what makes boxing so great is that it has its roots planted in countries all over the world.  Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, and so many other countries all have strong amateur programs that produce some of today’s top professionals, and these roots are planted so deep, that the sport will be forever kept alive.  The same certainly cannot be said of the UFC. 

So, one might ask, won’t the UFC start to plant its own roots and then grow from there?  The answer, quite frankly, is no.  Just think about it: starting a boxing gym is a pretty safe bet to make money.  In addition to having people who actually want to box, you have people coming just to get in shape.  Starting a UFC gym is so much more risky because people won’t be coming in to shed pounds. Business would depend on hard core male fighters who would have to be willing to sacrifice a year of their life to learn enough to take part in a fight.  That doesn’t sound like the greatest money maker in the world.  Plus, opening a UFC gym in a country with deep boxing roots would be like trying to introduce cricket to a baseball oriented country---it’s just not going to happen.

So without the ability of expansion, the UFC will be forced to use what it already has, and so far, that has worked.  Spike TV has a huge archive of fights that they can pick and choose from to deliver only top quality action to the new fans.  These “casual” fans, which now keep the sport alive, think that every UFC fight is a first round knockout and are immediately hooked.  However, the further they’ll get into the sport, the more they’ll realize that it isn’t all that great.  They’ll keep seeing the same fights over and over again and look for more, until they’ll realize that the lower level fights are quite boring as the fighters aren’t nearly as skilled as the big names (and believe me, nothing is more boring than watching two inexperienced UFC fighters wrestle on the ground for fifteen minutes).  They’ll buy into some pre-fight hype, pay fifty dollars, and then see the main event stopped a minute into the action.  And eventually, they’ll turn to the other violent sport which can provide so much more than the UFC.  Don’t you see?  There is so much more to boxing that people can appreciate.  When Cory Spinks is dancing circles around Roman Karmazin, a twenty year old girl who has never seen the sport in her life can understand at he’s doing, but when Royce Gracie is working his magic on the UFC floor, people have no idea what’s going on.  A lot of times, they don’t even understand why fights are stopped! 

In all likelihood, the UFC will surge in popularity over the next five years, but in the long run, the UFC won’t be able to touch boxing.  All the UFC is right now is that sexy new girl who fans are now starting to date instead of their childhood sweetheart.  But soon, fans will realize that despite its beauty, the UFC is just a Paris Hilton type with little substance, and they’ll return to the girl that has too much depth to ever be replaced.

Questions or comments,
Dan at: danhorgan2@verizon.net
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