A Violence Like This

If a boxing and MMA know-very-little like yours truly (hey, I live in the same city as Chuck Liddell, people!) can easily find Frank Deford’s latest “viewpoint” on SI’s web site ridiculous on its basic premise alone (boxing suffers and is on the downfall because it’s not as violent as UFC/Elite XC/MMA in general), I shudder to think what people who actually observe either sport — like say, either the folks at No Mas or the Fanhouse’s Michael David Smith — could actually do to destroy this effort by the last link to the bad-old-good-old-purple-prose days. But, rather than leave it to the pros, let’s tear this bad one apart now.

I’m not going to use space blockquoting Deford, as the column is written in such a condescending manner to presume most sports fans haven’t even heard of MMA, never mind his dismissal of it as a video game made real — an absolutely ludicrous and reductive argument — because most bouts are over quickly and it’s bloodier than boxing.

Deford’s essential problem is that he is dependent upon boxing’s heavyweight division as a comparison to provide the juice. Yes, there really is no compelling interest at that level in boxing right now to captivate the masses, but I defy anyone to watch fights on either HBO or PPV — like last week’s Cotto-Gomez tilt and the undercards — and say that there’s no juice left in boxing; hell, just look at the pub Floyd Mayweather, Jr. gets and his last fight with Oscar de la Hoya making bank on pay-per view buys.

Boxing’s problem is that there are too many organizing bodies with belts to have regular unification battles, and the sport’s own legacy spawned by strings of crooked-ass promoters. That’s a completely separate issue. Mixed martial arts have the advantage of identifiable fighters (Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Matt Serra, Georges St-Pierre, and more) in the UFC. Getting the top quality under one, well, octagon helps get the best fights on a card.

This is not video game violence, Mr. Deford. This is MMA. There are rules — as helpfully explained by an Elite XC ref in the video below (thanks to the aforementioned MDS at the Fanhouse)

While it’s certainly more graphic than you may be used to, it’s not the violence that has MMA growing; it’s the better quality product. Boxing isn’t as dead as everyone likes to claim, and the two can and ought to co-exist. Basing a very short, badly thought out column on the premise is poor form — and while you can comment and ask, “Well, why bother with Deford? He’s old hat anyhow?”, you’re right. However, the old hat spouted this same load of crap to a massive radio audience on NPR yesterday morning. I love NPR, but I’m aware that many of its listeners are not exactly following sports, and this is misinformation of the worst kind.

7 Responses

  1. As an MMA Fan and journalist, it offends me that Deford would go about and disrespect the sport like that. MMA is a much safer sport than Boxing.

    He’s an old school guy that likes boxing, like Kornheiser, like Wilbon, like Chad and just about half to three-fourths at Bristol.

    MMA will probably never get the full respect it deserves. If they don’t like it, that’s fine. Just learn all the facts first before smearing the sport.

  2. MMA is a fad.

  3. MMA, is the ultimate sport, it combines guys getting sweaty and rolling around with each other….with protection……sign me up!

  4. Every Wednesday morning, I look forward to laughing at DeFord’s commentary on NPR. Look up his Bill Belichick piece for a real belly laugh. (PS: I’ve been sitting on this gold mine for a while now, waiting to pounce, and you beat me to it! Good show, sir.)

  5. Just read this one, and have to agree with Nos. I didn’t realize that escaping submissions didn’t warrant some level of intelligence. What a frustrating article to read. I’m not sure how long it will take for MMA to get more recognition as an actual sport.

  6. […] interesting, some of the fighters well-trained and compelling, and even stuck up for the sport when Frank DeFord decided to take what I thought was an ill-informed whack at it a while […]

  7. […] public links >> frankdeford A Violence Like This Saved by rubenswieringa on Wed […]

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