By Aaron Richardson
Since its inception MMA has been considered the purest form of ‘fighting’ and some throughout the world would agree.
Judo/wresting/sambo – Grappling
Karate/Mui Thai/Takewondo – Kicking (primarily)
Boxing – Punching
But boxing, or ‘striking’ as MMA fans and enthusiasts like to call it, is pivotal in an MMA fight. It helps create distance, it is used as as a set up for a takedown, or it is used just like boxing for a knockout. When there is a ‘major’ crossover it doesn’t happen often but the outcomes depend solely on the arrogance of the participants.
1. Former heavyweight champion Ray Mercer knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in eight seconds.
2. Former UFC HW/LHW champion Randy Couture submitted former lineal middleweight champion James Toney at UFC 118.
James Toney had such an insane fall from grace. From a 2003 beating of Evander Holyfield to not being able to make money boxing, to a second shot at the limelight in the UFC (which in reality, given his known attitude, Toney was never going to become a grappling expert in three months). All-American Wrestler Randy Couture beat Toney with absolute ease using just that – his grappling. He never let Toney use his impressive hand skills.
Tim Sylvia has stated in the years since his brutal knockout loss to Mercer that his plan was to takedown and submit the veteran boxer. Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey was slightly different as Holm had been competing in MMA for a few years (sucsessfully). That being said, Holly Holm was a decorated boxer before she began MMA. This fight stood out as Rousey had her own striking credentials to brag about, most notably KOing Bethe Correia. And a couple of other half decent ‘strikers’. Rousey came into the fight thinking her boxing was on par with Holm’s and instead of doing what others did, which was play to their own strengths, she thought she could outbox the boxer and was outclassed in every ‘striking’ aspect possible.
To any MMA fans/purists reading this, it’s the equivalent of submitting three or four whitebelts in Judo or Jujitsu then you face a blackbelt and they wrap you up like a Xmas present and choke you out.
Boxing in MMA is taught differently in MMA Gyms
I’ve personally coached in one in my town and trained at a couple throughout the North and the lack of both knowledge and understanding of the basic fundamentals is unbelievable. Timing is slower, footwork can be an afterthought and defence is taught with kicking variations (it has to be to be fair). Boxing is still just one aspect of fighting that has diehard MMA fans chomping at the bit whenever there is someone who could become a threat to the ‘king of all disciplines’ rule.
Like Conor McGregor…..
McGregor was a standout amateur boxer as a youth and teenager who made the transition to MMA in his teens. Charismatic, cocky and talented he has undeniably taken MMA to the next level in terms of popularity and revenue. Every win he gets is a KO or a stoppage, usually from a specific combination or a precisely-timed punch. That’s all boxing because of his background. That’s not MMA Striking. Because of this fact, many MMA websites size Conor up against top boxers like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather to try and say, “We’ve got a guy who can throw down too” and pretty much have him as a product of MMA who happens to be a fantastic boxer. In reality he is a good boxer with a lot of power AND basic footwork. Which in my opinion further illustrates the lack of boxing talent in MMA, but it wasn’t done with Holly Holm, possibly as Holm has a heavily decorated Boxing backgound. Forgetting that when Conor began, his base was boxing.
Ultimately, each side has its detractors but being a boxer I’d have to side with or very own brand of fisticuffs.
Photo Credit: Empower Network