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When UFC fighter Ronda Rousey decided to mark her new status as female sports hero of the hour, one way she did that was sparking a social media battle. Boxer Floyd Mayweather was a recipient of the snark, and did his best to rope-a-dope the Twitter jabs. He’s no fool—she admires and is jealous of his status.
This is Rousey’s way of giving Mayweather props, whether she knows it or not. Observers are cheering her on, because of simplistic “good guy-bad guy” judgments. If you bully a perceived bully, are you a really a hero, or just another bully? Save that one for another day.
Rousey’s wink-wink attacks brings to mind the old question of where the better fighters reside: Boxing or MMA?
Actually, this debate gets framed as “if a cage fighter and a boxer fought, who would win?” It is a useless argument that’s been simmering for years. Same as other arguments such as Bill Russell vs. Michael Jordan, the variables are such that there is no correct answer. This shrinks down to who or what you like better.
The general consensus is that the first guy gets to use his arms and his legs. He has four-wheel drive. That’s a huge advantage—get the boxer on the floor and the whole game changes. But that’s because, in this hypothetical mind-movie, they would be fighting under MMA rules, not boxing’s.
We saw this when aging boxer James Toney decided to give MMA a try, and was promptly trounced by Randy Couture. MMA fans happy-danced over the circus act, not seeming to acknowledge the obvious.
Compare this to a cat versus a dog. The cat’s fighting and defensive styles would give him an advantage in most cases. Imagine a panther versus your prized fightin’ Rottweiler.
Rottie has some strengths, but he is forced to adapt to an enemy who has more weapons. The primary reason that dogs chase cats, and not the other way around, is size. Everyone knows the phrase “Styles make fights.”
Yes, there are surely some competent boxers in the MMA ranks. The top fighters are excellent athletes who likely could hold their own as a pugilist. But the exception proves the rule; it doesn’t negate the rule.
MMA figurehead Dana White spent a lot of time in UFC’s early years disparaging boxing. Well, of course, he did. We don’t expect Ronald McDonald to endorse the Hardee’s Thickburger. To extend that analogy, only a fool would trust ole Ronald when he tells us his burgers and fries are healthy. When White keeps telling us that MMA is safer than boxing, and that people die from ring injuries but not yet in his sport… doesn’t the phrase “famous last words” come to mind?
Boxing is a chess match, when done well. MMA is not merely street fighting; there is strategy and execution required.
The difference is that boxing is intentionally limited in what is legal. This is seen as a criticism in our time for some reason. But those are simply the rules, and it makes boxing into something MMA can’t be—a science. Both sports contain fighting. They part ways soon after that. There is no true king, except the one you choose.