Why Boxing Needs UFC Fighters To Survive


Ronda Rousey

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mmachannel.com, its affiliates and sponsors.

For many years, Boxing was one of the top sports on the planet. 

Many Pay-Per-Views were sold including some of the top names in the sport’s history like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and George Foreman. 

Even Muhammad Ali and others could sell out arenas or stadiums anywhere they traveled, once even doing so in the Philippines alone. 

Boxing is ultimately where the big fight money is made due to the shared model plus purse. This means that boxers will get a share of the profits for an event regardless of the outcome. Then if they win, they’ll get the entire win purse too. Of course, this was a huge concept that allowed boxers to have fewer fights but still keep having them for years.

The attention the boxer brought in determined their contract. The last true major draw was Floyd Mayweather, who could usually net $250 million + for any fight he took part in. Now, there is not a guaranteed draw.

Yet Boxing has started to decline while the UFC happens to be on the rise.

In fact, UFC has not only seen a rise in viewership across every major demographic…but they have even gotten over numerous different divisions and even female fighting.

In boxing, you’d be lucky to see any good female boxer. Meanwhile, boxing for men can still be quite successful due to the likes of  Showtime. Now even ESPN has gotten in on the action. But boxing is still fading into obscurity. Why? Boxing has a very few top name boxers left who can sell and there are no up and coming boxers people are interested in.

How do you fix this? I believe some of the top UFC fighters need to cross over into boxing to inject some excitement back into a boxing match that casual fans can be excited about. Despite these two are different sports, it’s more realistic than one might think as I will explain in the following.

Top Selling Boxers Are Diminishing Each Other

One of the key issues for boxing right now has to be the lack of major names compared to the early 2000s and 1990s. There are some great fighters in the sport, but not as many as we’d like. On top of this, putting super-fights together that can draw money usually results in a star’s value being lost for them. There are two major examples of this.

Look at two of the best heavyweight fighters in recent memory: Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. Both men were impressive fighters who both had knockout power. While Wilder is known for his knockouts, even having one of the most powerful punches for a heavyweight fighter in boxing history…Joshua is all about the sweet science of boxing itself. Sure, he can knock you out but he can defeat you on points too.

We were once talking about how Joshua vs Wilder could be the best super-fight we have available to us. Both men kept winning and with those wins came more and more talk about the men fighting each other. The problem was the contracts they had and the titles each man held.

Then both men ran into something problematic. Joshua took on a fighter many thought he’d wipe the floor with, Andy Ruiz, Jr. Not only was he favored to win by a large margin, no one in their right mind even cared about the fight as a result. Yet Ruiz beat him in June of 2019. It did not matter that he beat Ruiz in December of 2019. The damage was already done to end his win streak.

The same happened to Wilder when he took on Tyson Fury in their first bout together. He and Fury had a great fight but it resulted in a tie. The second time they fought, Fury won without any controversy. Now, just like with Joshua, a win over Fury cannot get Wilder’s undefeated record back.

3 Fighters, all heavyweights, STILL do not move the meter as much as UFC’s Conor McGregor, for example.

Boxing Has Talented Boxers But People Aren’t Interested

Obviously boxing is more than heavyweights. Boxing has many talented boxers you might not have heard of in other weight divisions. Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr, just to name a few.

Like in MMA, there are many weight classes worthy of your time in boxing, just as much as UFC.

But these boxers do not resonate with casual fans and more importantly, most people do not know them while UFC fighters are becoming household names.

It’s clear that the talent is present in boxing but the eyeballs are leaving the sport. People aren’t following boxing like they used to because boxing lacksboxers who resonate with fans!

Hardcore boxing fans might disagree but this is why you need something like UFC fighters to come to boxing to make interesting boxing matches. But you might wonder if UFC fighters can box.

MMA Fighters Can Box too!

If you ask any MMA Fighter, whether they are in the UFC, Bellator MMA, or any other company…they’ll tell you how important boxing is. In fact, boxing is so critical to know for fighters that there are a few top tier MMA Academies who are known for teaching this well. For example, American Top Team(ATT) school has housed some of the best strikers in MMA history.

While American Top Team might be one of the best gyms to learn MMA, they have managed to teach boxing in a style that fits MMA. ATT houses traditional boxers and help MMA fighters to teach them new ways to fight or train using boxing techniques.

ATT has worked with the likes of Anderson Silva, Amanda Nunes, Tyron Woodley, Junior Dos Santos, and Joanna Jdrzejczyk. Do you notice anything in common with these people? That’s right, all champions in the sport…and some of the absolute best too! While these people also had other disciplines beyond just boxing, they realized its value.

Martial Arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and even Wrestling all have their value. However, MMA fighters know the importance of boxing in MMA because it is the most effective discipline that teaches you to do well in stand-up fighting.

The key difference between MMA fighters in UFC and boxing is that UFC fighters train for every combat style while boxers only train in hand strikings.

Thus who’s to say UFC fighters can’t box well if they devote their entire time to training in boxing only? Many of the UFC fighters are world-class athletes who had to master various combat styles to become elite MMA fighters. With that, these fighters are athletic enough to transition to boxing if they are serious.

There are also several people in UFC that are highly notable for their strikes, especially their boxing.

You’ll know some of them, such as Jose Aldo, Holly Holm, TJ Dillashaw, Max Holloway, and even Conor McGregor. They are some of the best strikers we’ve seen and some even competed in boxing before jumping into MMA.

That said, it’s clear mixed martial artists believe boxing is useful and they can box better than many people think.

Cross Promotion Could Be Huge For Boxing

Looking at the UFC, it is clear that there are people in MMA that can jump to boxing and do relatively well. Moreover, the money the UFC stars could bring in is also huge. 

This is why seeing something like Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather would have to be the idea to shoot for. This match did amazing numbers for boxing too. Grand total, they brought in 4.3 million domestic buys, resulting in hundreds of millions in revenue and one of the highest PPV buys in history.

While McGregor was one of the top names in UFC at that time, Mayweather had been retired for years from the sport of boxing. Yet they STILL brought in millions of buys. This proves that UFC stars jumping to boxing can give it a huge boost in boxing. 

Therefore, we should consider some fantasy match-ups that could help the sport.

For example, a talented young boxer currently to look to is David Benavidez. He’s a two-time Super Middleweight Boxing Champion and one of the best Middleweight Fighters on the planet. If you put him in a boxing contest with someone like UFC’s Israel Adesanya, could you imagine how compelling it could be? 

Israel is actually a kickboxer who was formerly in the Glory Middleweight Tournament winner and 3-time King of the Ring Tournament winner. Thus, you put him in a boxing match-up…it could be a compelling fight. Keep in mind that Adesanya has also won a title in his given sport.

You’re putting a young star in two places together, only giving more of a rise to the sport of boxing and even helping to create a new star. Whether David wins or not isn’t the point, the point is the attention he can bring in. Boxing uses UFC to rise back up, but this is the type of thing they’ll have to continue to do if this concept is going to work.

More Fantasy Match-Ups

It would be odd to not mention the idea of Conor McGregor returning. He could very well have a career in boxing if he chose to just box and nothing more. Even Canelo Alverez has stated that he’d fight Conor if nothing more than the PPV buys. Other than another fighter at his level such as GGG, Canelo cannot bring in big buys with other boxers. McGregor ensures there is a possibility.

However, Canelo is not alone in this issue as it takes two major boxers to bring in huge numbers. 

Look at Tyson Fury, for example. Not only has he not had the chance to work with anyone of major note outside of Wilder, but he had to jump to do a match in the WWE to build his name more. He cannot do it with many other boxers, especially in the heavyweight division. 

Why not, then, have him fight a guy like UFC’s Stipe Miocic? He’s a Heavyweight Championship winning fighter in the sport of MMA. The two could have a compelling contest.

Another fight to consider is seeing someone like Georges St-Pierre take on Terence Crawford. Both are Welterweights and both are top names in their respective sport. St-Pierre took time off but then came out of retirement to dominate again in MMA. Keep in mind that he has lethal kicks but also lethal punches.

Georges is a 3rd dan black belt in Kyokushin Karate, a 1st-degree black belt in BJJ, and a black belt in Shidōkan Karate which is a full contact Karate. While technically retired from MMA, he very well could go into boxing and take on Crawford. His background proves he could. The two are only 6 years apart in age and St-Pierre has fewer MMA fights than Crawford does boxing. St-Pierre vs Crawford could sell out any arena on the planet.

It may also benefit some MMA Fighters to make a jump to boxing if they prefer to strike than ground fighting in MMA.

Take another top UFC fighter Jon Jones who is very athletic. While he does still have great kicks, his punches, reach, and timing are all lethal. If he goes into boxing, could you imagine how successful he could be? 

In Boxing, you could see him fight in at least three different divisions: Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, and Heavyweight.

Imagine seeing Jon Jones vs Anthony Joshua or Jon Jones vs Deontay Wilder. Heck, think about a Jon Jones vs Tyson Fury fight. All of these scream box office and it does not even matter if Jones wins….he’d still draw due to interest. UFC helped to make him a star and now that star power bleeds over into boxing.

UFC Fighters Can Boost Women’s Boxing 

Finally, consider that boxing is not just about men. The world of women’s boxing could use some huge boost for sure. It’s clear as well that MMA has been the place where some of the greatest female strikers end up. Holly Holm, Joanna Jedrzejczyk , Amanda Nunes, Rose Namajunas, and many more have been impressive. 

Women’s sports have been growing but boxing is one of the few places that has not seen much growth.

However, seeing one of the female stars of the UFC jump to boxing and take on a fight with people like Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields, Mariana Juarez, Cecilia Braekhus, or Jelena Mrdjenovich might beef up the sport more. 

Even if it is not one of these women but another woman in the sport, it could bring really good attention to an area where boxing has suffered for far too long.

Jeff J.

Jeff J is a retired Gunnery Sgt. with the United States Marine Corps and a former Federal Police officer. He was involved with extensive training with weapons systems, and hand to hand combat, mentored and trained hundreds of Marines in high-level fitness programs.

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