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5 Reasons why MMA is killing Boxing.

Johny Payne
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Timeless

#4 Organizations

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Brock Lesnar fights for the UFC organization at UFC 200

That brings us to the all-important point of organizations and promoters in boxing and MMA. Now it’s essential to understand the difference between the core of the business models of boxing and MMA. In boxing the alphabet organizations (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, etc) reserve the right to sanction fights between the top professional boxers.

Apart from the permits from the State or National Athletic Commission (depending on the rules of the nation that the event is taking place in), the aforementioned boxing organizations also play a key role in the organization of pro-boxing bouts.

On the other hand, it is a pre-requisite for a boxing promoter to be free of any business association from the boxing organizations. This in turn is another aspect of boxing where corruption and politics play a huge role in destroying the sport.

The biggest example of a boxing promoter wielding influence over a major boxing organization is that of Don King and the WBC. In fact boxing pundits and fans alike have called WBC President the late Jose Sulaiman as Don King’s puppet.

Several instances of favoritism by the WBC for King’s fighters have come to light over the years, including the WBC’s favors to Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr., Julio Cesar Chavez and many other boxers that were at the time promoted by King.

This illustration of the unholy alliance between a highly respectable boxing organization and a greedy promoter is just one of the innumerable times, that boxing organizations and the boxing business model has failed the fans and fighters alike. What makes these goof-ups by the so-called honorable boxing organizations more hilarious is that in spite of their obvious favoritism and blatant disregard for their own rules, these organizations still truck on as the representatives of the sport of boxing.

Furthermore, top boxing organizations such as the WBA and WBO have more than one champion for each weight-class in their own organization...Let that sink in! The WBA has a ‘Super Champion’/’Unified Champion’, a ‘Regular Champion’ and an ‘Interim-Champion’- all in one weight class. Let’s simplify this with an example. The WBA Light-Heavyweight (175 pound) Championship- Unified champion- Andre Ward; Regular Champion- Nathan Cleverly; Interim-Champion- Dmitry Bivol.

And that’s just the WBA, the WBC, IBF, WBO and several other lesser-recognized organizations also have multiple champions in one weight class.

What’s more hilarious is that most of these champions never compete against each other, in spite of being in the same weight-class. Add to this the fact that most of these ‘champions’ could be the #5 and #9 ranked boxers in the world, but are always promoted as ‘World’ champions.

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Besides, the 4 major alphabet organizations routinely witness their belts being vacated by boxers who seek fights against champions and contenders of the other organizations. There have been several instances when the WBC would disallow their fighter to compete against a WBO champion or top contender.

Now although title-unification is gradually being encouraged in boxing by promoters such as boxing legend-Oscar De La Hoya and other open-minded promoters; such instances are far and few. Besides, putting together a title-unification bout in boxing involves not only years and years of lobbying for the fighters, camps, and promoters; but also the approval of the alphabet organizations involved in the said title-scenario.

The WBC also boasts of having the ‘Silver’ and ‘Diamond’ world titles in boxing. The aforementioned titles created by the WBC serve to further de-legitimatize the actual champion of the weight-class, whilst muddying the waters even more at the top of the division. In other words the insane number of belts, in boxing, that are promoted by the 4 major organizations, confuse the longtime-boxing fans and also drive away new fans.

In stark contrast to boxing, MMA has great functional dynamics of fight organization and fight promotion. MMA organizations and promoters don’t have the pre-requisite of being mutually exclusive. Top MMA promotions such as the UFC, Bellator MMA, RIZIN FF, etc promote the fighters as well as hand the fighters world title belts of their respective organizations.

This brings transparency to MMA as compared to boxing. Furthermore, MMA has two or at the most three major organizations handing out world titles. In fact, as of today the UFC world titles are widely regarded as the Undisputed world titles and the UFC champions are considered the best fighters in the sport. 

This hierarchy of organizations in MMA has provided clarity to the MMA fans and Pundits alike. Furthermore, each weight class in the top MMA organizations have ‘one’ Undisputed champion. In case the Undisputed champion of a weight-class is unable to defend his belt for about 6 months or more, most MMA organizations create an Interim-championship for the said weight-class.

For example Conor McGregor who won the Undisputed UFC Lightweight (LW/155 pound) championship from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November of 2016, declared a 10-month absence from competition following which the UFC has scheduled an Interim-championship fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 in March of 2017.

It’s essential to note that unlike boxing, the aforementioned title contenders at UFC 209 are in fact the top contenders in the UFC LW division. 

No ‘Silver’ belts, no ‘Diamond’ belts, no made-up meaningless titles. From the organization hierarchy to the belts handed out by the top organizations, MMA prefers to call it like it is. Once again MMA avoids the logjam of boxing’s innumerable organizations and belts. 

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