UFC is in a difficult spot right now, head locked between underwhelming pay per view numbers and an absence of popular fighters (and their personas) like McGregor, Rousey, and others.
To be fair, boxing isn’t doing the greatest either, and the general consensus behind that observation has to do with the sport not aging into modern audience desires of more realistic styles of fighting. People want arm bars that dislocate elbows. They want silver-tongued insults and in-your-face press tours.
So, what prevents either sport from learning what works and what doesn’t from each other? Neither sport wants to share or admit their similarities for the fear it will forsake their differences.
Hence, you have UFC President Dana White and Hall of Fame boxing promoter Bob Arum sparring with words over what the other is doing wrong.
“One of the things that boxing did and continues to do to kill itself never care about the future,” says White.
Arum fired back, saying: “You have to understand, UFC is a monopoly… they pay their athletes 20 percent of the gross — we pay around 80 percent — what they say they’re investing back in the business, they’re investing in themselves.”
It’s a shame because constructive collaboration between the two sports would breathe new vigor into the other. It would show UFC has matured beyond meathead fighters with bloodlust, while at the same time reminding everyone that boxing refs are happy to let fighters bloody each other up before intervening.
There’s a reason a follow-up match between Mayweather and McGregor in the Octagon never evolved beyond a whisper, and there’s a reason boxing fans never took McGregor seriously when he stepped into the ring. Maybe someday White and Arum can make amends for the love of combatives. It couldn’t happen any sooner, given all these disenfranchised NFL fans looking for a new sport to rally to.