Saturday, August 05, 2006

They can't see the forest for the trees

I'm a big, big fan of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). I've been watching it almost from its inception, and the athletes involved continue to amaze me with the cerebral aspects of fighting. I've got just enough combat arts training to be useless to me, but its enough that I can tell what's going on in the Octagon. MMA has evolved into a highly technical sport that isn't just about blood anymore. As a matter of fact, it hasn't been about that for quite some time.
Which is why people who should know better baffle me when they make stupid comments about it. I'm not talking about people who aren't fans, I'm talking about people that make their money by being connected to combative sports.
I recently read an interesting article on Chuck Liddell's website ( that started out being about the Light Heavyweight Champion, but ended up being about MMA in general. Jim Lampley, who I respect as an authority on boxing, made himself look like an ignoramus when he said,
"The technical profundity of boxing is a product of its 115-year pedigree in this country, and to compare those two is like comparing a mole hill to a planet. What I see with the UFC are bar fights. They may be very good bar fights, but they're still bar fights."
That comment irks me, because having been a commentator on boxing and a color analyst on who knows how many fights in the 19 years he's been doing it, he should know better. The technical profundity of boxing? What the heck is that? How many different combinations of left and rights are there? I think I wanna go check out the bars he hangs out in. Sounds like there's some pretty amazing matchups I can see for free. How many throws are there in boxing? How many locks are there in boxing? Takedown defense? Sure, they have striking, but that's all it is. MMA is so much more than that now.
Must be the compelling personalities that make boxing so great, after 115 years. Who are the world champs again? In any weight class? In any organization? I couldn't tell you one of them. OK, well, then it must be the sportsmanship that makes boxing great. Except for that Tyson guy who bit a piece of a guy's ear off in the ring. And then said some stupid crap about eating somebody's children. All this from boxing's top draw.
Hmmmm...we're not doing well here, boxing. What else...oh, yeah! Boxing is so well refereed that nobody gets seriously hurt. What's that? Guys have died in the ring, huh? *sigh* Well, I guess Lampley's right. Boxing is definately the planet in this comparison. Especially because the UFC has never had a guy get killed fighting in the Octagon. Yup. Boxing is the thing. Its become so refined that only the highest quality individuals get involved in it. Oh, yeah. That Tyson guy again. Rats. Never mind.
If you're not a fan of MMA but you follow combat sports of some sort, take a good look at it. It will surprise you with how technical and well rounded its become. Especially in the new lightweight class in the UFC. The depth of knowledge and skill at the professional level are really impressive. Thanks to for Tyson's second mug shot.

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