Boxing Wins the Battle, But Will MMA Win the War?

By E. Spencer Kyte (

Six days ago, this same photo combo led off a piece discussing the PPV Grudge Match that went down last Saturday between UFC 103 and Mayweather vs. Marquez.

Early reports indicate that “Pretty Boy Floyd” put a beating on the UFC last weekend, something that will certainly be trumpeted from the mountain tops by boxing fans and anti-MMA activists alike.

While this unanimous decision certainly helps cement Mayweather’s place as one of the biggest PPV draws on the planet, I’m not ready to declare boxing the undisputed champion of pay-per-view just yet.

Without question, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of the two biggest boxing stars competing today, the other being Manny Pacquiao, of course. He is a massive draw, undefeated in 40 professional bouts and pretty much untouchable.

For MMA fans, he’s the Lyoto Machida of boxing, emerging from his fights unscathed the same way the reigning light heavyweight champ does time after time.

But let’s not go putting too much stock into last weekend’s tug-o-war for people’s pay-per-view dollars.

You had one of the greatest and most popular boxers on the planet, covered and promoted at great length by the mainstream media, competing in the biggest boxing event of the year going up against UFC 103, complete with zero title fights, one half of the main event returning to the company after a four-year hiatus and a handful of other competitive but far from captivating bouts.

Of course Mayweather – Marquez ruled the night; this was the varsity squad beating the tar out of the JV team and then bragging about it. Losing would have been a story, but the fact that they came out ahead shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Perhaps a more far and just comparison would be between boxing’s biggest draw (Mayweather) and the best the UFC has offered this year, their centennial show in Las Vegas this past July.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Shaefer has hinted that last weekend’s event will eclipse the one million buy mark, a great number no matter what side of the debate you’re on.

That being said, rising above the one million mark would still leave the biggest boxing event of the year more than half a million buys shy of the premier event on the UFC calendar this year.

Headlined by some of the biggest names in the sport, UFC 100 garnered a reported 1.6 million PPV buys and sits atop the charts as the single biggest pay-per-view event of the year. It was also the first time that the mainstream media gave the a UFC event the same amount of coverage they offer boxing.

If the two biggest draws in their respective sports (Mayweather in boxing, Brock Lesnar in MMA) were ever to go head-to-head, a definitive winner could not be decided right here, right now, at least not without a whole lot of bias being involved.

Clearly, boxing had the better night last weekend; The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Show was a massive success and laid waste to UFC 103.

But boxing should certainly be looking over it’s shoulder.

Without much mainstream media attention, the UFC is producing numbers approaching that of the biggest boxing event of the year on a monthly basis and the numbers will only continue to grow.

If the sport is ever afforded the same coverage that boxing is given, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

And let’s not forget, while boxing has been around forever, past down from generation to generation as the combat sport of choice, Mixed Martial Arts is still in it’s teenage years and already making inroads on boxing’s fan base.

My suggestion?

Circle November 21, 2009 on your calendar.

That’s the day UFC 106 goes down in Las Vegas, headlined by Brock Lesnar defending his title against Shane Carwin, with an undercard featuring the return of Tito Ortiz.

Boxing rolled out it’s big guns last weekend and put a big number on the board.

We’ll see where things really stand when the UFC does the same in two months time.

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?