During a recent broadcast of ESPN’s A Los Golpes, renowned Mexican journalist David Faitelson and former boxing world champion Julio César Chávez spoke about Mixed Martial Arts, including Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Chávez, staying true to his style, spoke his mind with no restraint: “Absolutely, the UFC has grown a lot, but you can’t compare it to boxing. Boxing is simply at another level, at least the way I see it.”
MMA – particularly through the UFC – has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, with some even saying that it’s the sport of the future, and that it will become so at the expense of boxing. The fact that top MMA fighter Ronda Rousey appeared on the cover of The Ring points to the sport’s meteoric rise.
What will happen with either sport in the future is still unclear. But Chávez makes a good point about boxing; like many Olympic sports, it requires discipline that one must learn from a very young age. Given most fighters’ early start in the sport, the boxing elite are young but excellent athletes. Of course there are a few examples (ironically, Julio César Chávez being one of them) of boxers who started late, but most begin training in their early teens. This heavily contrasts with MMA’s elite, most of whom (if not all), transition from other sports, some doing so as late as their thirties.
Faitelson spoke about MMA in more disparaging terms. “I think this sport is extremely violent and lacks technique and style. People now want more violence and when they go to a boxing match and don’t see blood or a knockout, [they] feel disappointed.” He then continued by arguing MMA hurts boxing, as people don’t appreciate its technique in their thirst for blood. Faitelson concluded his argument by complimenting Floyd Mayweather’s fighting style and saying it was a “luxury” to see him, stating how surprised he was boxing fans were usually unhappy with Floyd.
Given that I have been following both sports closely for many years now, I can’t help but roll my eyes after hearing Faitelson’s comments. If you know anything about boxing and MMA, you know there is no question at all that boxing is a much more violent – and dangerous – sport than MMA. Getting punched repeatedly in the head for as many as 12 rounds is simply much more physically damaging than the occasional punches and submission typical of MMA fights.
Deaths during MMA matches are usually due to medical negligence at small venues, not physical punishment endured in televised stadium bouts, as is the norm in boxing. MMA’s impressive knockouts are simply due to thin gloves and the kicking and kneeing common in the sport.
The lack of style and technique Faitelson mentions? It’s obvious he didn’t see Holly Holms beat heavy favorite and skilled athlete Ronda Rousey.