A lack of journeymen means UFC will never be boxing

September 14, 2009 by  

I always knew it would come to this, but debated whether I would come clean. I figured I could enjoy it on my own time and keep it hidden from the world. I could make it my little secret. Like herpes.

Alas, I am unable to keep it to myself any longer. It is time for an admission - I quite like Mixed Martial Arts fighting. If you’re a long-time boxing fan like myself, you see where this puts me in a quandary. In fact, my whole boxing belief system has come into question.

Does my new-found interest in MMA mean that I’ve only enjoyed boxing because I like seeing two dudes kick the crap out of each other? Because that’s not romantic at all. And it would render years of waxing eloquent of the violent intellectualism of boxing completely moot. Am I just some guy who enjoys giving added emotional importance and significance to nose-punching?

Like I said - quandary. Luckily, I am the type that likes to spend long hours having internal debates. Most people call this “sleep.” A professional writer like myself calls it “research.” So, in order to maintain my stupidly high opinion of myself, I have come up with one main reason why my flirtation is just that - a flirtation.

The reason? The lack of true journeymen fighters.

Yes, boxing is more of a sport, nay, an art form than MMA ever could be and it’s mainly because as you read this, there is some guy hitting a heavy bag and preparing for his next fight. His record is something like 4-46-2,and he’s been knocked out in his last 12 fights, but he’s got a fight scheduled in some kid’s backyard and a decently placed jab will make it a baker’s dozen.

There are many fighters like that in boxing. Guys that will travel from town to town, helping to bolster the record of some up-and-coming prospect. In fact, maybe at one time these journeymen were up-and-comers, but no more. now they are fodder.

These brave men are why every time you watch a fight between two young, strong fighters, both tend to have records of 19-0 with 17 KOs, They may not have the power to punch through a paper bag, but they have Randall Bailey-type power while starting their career buzzsawing their way through the Midwest circuit.

In MMA, this never happens. Taking the UFC for example, it seems promotional genius and part-time douchebag Dana White has learned some valuable lessons from the world of professional wrestling. Because just about every fight in the UFC is a match-up of guys who have real skills. There are no gimmes in the UFC.

This is why in MMA, you could be a super-champion and roundly thought of as the baddest man on the planet, yet have a record of 5-3-2. Because in Mixed Martial Arts, there is but one simple truth - everyone gets their ass beat. Usually several times throughout a career.

Yes, as much as you admire the incredible skills of MMA fighters like Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes or Chuck Liddell, each one of them has experienced being horrifyingly battered in the octagon. The competition is too strong, and even the best are one punch, kick or hold away from being humbled. It cam make creating stars difficult for the MMA. Ask Kimbo Slice.

Nonetheless, I admire and appreciate boxing’s professional, pay-per-punch-out journeymen. Because year-in, year-out, they do their jobs, getting knocked out quickly by prospects who would d rather have a win on their record than new skills in their bag. These are men to be appreciating. For example, a compilation of Mike Tyson’s greatest knockouts could be called “Nameless, Faceless, Terrified Guys Helping Build Up Mike Tyson’s Record.”

Because let’s face it, if Tyson had faced the type of competition that the UFC throws at you, his career would have ended before he was legally allowed to drink. Then where would be as a society?

In the end, let me say this - I like MMA. These guys are fighters, and I’ll always have respect for those willing to take punches for a living. And some of the fighting action the tightly matched battles produce is scintillating beyond belief.

But it’s not boxing. And while there are a multitude of reasons why I’ll always remain a boxing fan first and foremost, it’s because of the journeyman. Boxing’s lovable losers that play their part early in a prospect’s career. They are part of the history of the game, and they’ll always have their part to play. And every once in a while, a Max Baer or Freddie Pendleton emerge from the ranks of journeymen and become a world champion. And what could be better than that?



One Response to “A lack of journeymen means UFC will never be boxing”

  1. dgun on September 14th, 2009 4:26 pm

    My Fav MMA fighter, over two seasons in the octagon:


    Break the wrist and walk away.

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