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Wednesday July 26th 2017
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UFC and Pride merge, is boxing doomed?

On Monday, the two largest MMA companies announced a buyout as the Ultimate Fighting Championship purchased Pride Fighting Championship. UFC and Pride announced the merger, saying that for the time being they will act as two separate entities although they will be operating under one corporate umbrella. The proposed plan is for one, maybe two major “supercards” per year. The super cards would combine combatants from both promotions to create fights previously only seen as impossible. Dana White, president of UFC called this announcement “a dream come true for fans,” when speaking on a conference call discussing his historical announcement. This merger of MMA heavyweights may ultimately doom boxing as the dominant fighting sport. Is MMA just a fad? Is comparing boxing to ultimate fighting like comparing apples and oranges?

In the last year UFC’s parent companty, Zuffa LLC, has purchased the World Fighting Alliance, World Extreme Cagefighting located in California and now Pride Fighting located largely in Japan. The Associated Press reports that UFC spent an estimated $70 million to purchase Pride Fighting and its assets, largely the fighters themselves. World Exteme Cagefightting (WEC) is currently broadcast in the U.S. on the Versus network, UFC has a contract with Spike TV and Pride Fighting is shown on Fox Sports regional networks. The significant of the merger is not merely nationwide but worldwide. UFC is largely based in the United States while Pride’s business in largely in the Asian markets. The fact that Pride is based largely in Asian markets and the UFC is largely in the United States is the single biggest factor for the two companies remaining separate.
UFC now has an opportunity to create superfights and pit fighters against each other that fans may have thought not possible. One of boxing’s main obstacles as of late has been unification, especially in the heavyweight division, and fighters from different promotions not being able to come to terms and create the fights that fans want to see. MMA can now treat their fans to the best fights possible, not just in the United States but worldwide and it could help immensely. Boxing fans have been crying out, for fights such as a rematch between Manny Pacquioa and Marco Antonio Barrera but because Bob Arum of Top Rank and Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy have had their differences in the past that rematch may never happen. That problem that did exist in MMA but with all major federations of mixed martial arts now classified under one corporate umbrella that problem seems to dissipate.
Federations, leagues or organizations have merged in the past to great success. The AFL and NFL merged in 1966 and the NFL has now become the most successful professional league in all of sports, which may not have been possible if the two leagues had not joined their player pool and assets together. In 1976 the NBA and ABA who were continually bidding for top level talent were merged together and along with the rivalry of the Celtics and Lakers as well as Michael Jordan emerging in the late 1980’s led to the success the NBA enjoys today.
Can MMA have the same success that the NFL and NBA had once merging with their greatest competition? Yes, but only to a degree. MMA will be a success, but I don’t know if it will ever be any more than just a passing fad. Boxing dates back hundreds of years and is an American institution. As exciting as an MMA fight can be there is still something about “fight night.” For all the talk about this merger and how MMA is the next big thing, I say it is temporary. I say boxing is here to stay and all boxing needs is an influx of quality young talent. MMA will never have the mainstream appeal that boxing enjoys. MMA will always be viewed as more barbaric or hardcore, whereas boxing will always be known as the “sweet science.” There will never be a UFC fighter that will achieve the status of Joe Lewis or Muhammed Ali, even Mike Tyson. Boxing is here to stay and MMA or UFC or whatever you want to call it is just a fad or a flash in the pan. Boxing needs a shot in the arm and I think De La Hoya/Mayweather is exactly what the sport needs. People will remember the excitement of fight night, for at least one more night.
Jeff Soklin is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and is currently involved in the field of sport management


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5 Responses to “UFC and Pride merge, is boxing doomed?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Excellent article!

  2. DK says:

    Great well written article, and I think you give both sports a fair shake, but you underestimate the enchanting power of MMA. Boxing is good, I have no idea who’s good anymore because its never on television. UFC is pushing their brand hard, and now with Pride in the mix it’s going to take over. Word of mouth is huge for MMA and its spreading fast. Boxing is in a state of regression.

  3. jeff soklin says:

    Thanks DK. I agree with your points; UFC is spreading while boxing regresses. My thoughts are that boxing is a tradition, an American stable and will eventually reign supreme over UFC or MMA. Boxing is down now, but I don’t think it will last forever.
    Anyone else have thoughts?

  4. Russell says:

    You seemed like youd give MMA a fair shot in the begining, but you definantly picked your side. I bet you said baseball was on its way back too huh. Guess what nobody likes baseball anymore, and nobody cares about boxing one little bit. People want to see MMA not because its brutal or hardcore (allthough of coarse there are allways going to be people like that just as there are in any combat sport) but people want to see it because its realistic and it shows who the best fighters actually are, boxing proves nothing about fighting ability. How many straight boxers have to get crushed by wrestlers before you accept that. The problem is that you sir dont understand mma has been around for years it finally made its way to america . Look at boxing how world based is it really, its mostly american MMA is truelly world wide and allways has been. Look I can appreciate you wanting to salvage your past times or whatever but to be honest boxing sucks , you must understand mma is worldwide so to say its a fad just doesnt make sense. You may think boxing is an american stable and maybe for the 60s and 70s it was but to say it is truelly an american stable you are most definantly wrong. allthough your still thinking the MLB is going to overtake the NFL anyday now . MMA is not a fad anymore than baseball or boxing. It will be around for a good while, and id say MMA is the next american stable.

  5. Chris says:

    I will have to also disagree with you statement that MMA is a Fad. Boxing was the brutal sport in the early 1900, today boxing is a refined sport where the action and excitement is gone. Tyson and De La Hoya are great examples of Boxers, but they are the dieing breed, now you have boxers the want to learn Ju jit su, College wrestlers wanting to master Karate. This is not at all a fad ,it is an Evolution. Great fighters wanting to be better fighters. It does not matter what appendage they are throwing or how they win a fight. Its about being better then the guy across from you. Also, MMA stands for Mix Martal Arts, Martal Arts have been around longer than our county and our institution. Boxing was just a steping stone for what to come. The Evolution into MMA

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