Combat Sports

Like a lot of people, I watched the big fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor on Saturday night. The claim is it made six gorillion dollars and a bazillion people watched it. As is always the case these days, the numbers are all lies and the real numbers are vastly lower than claimed. The live gate was about what you see from a typical fight, but the PPV was probably much higher than typical. UFC fans are conditioned to view their sport through television and on-line, rather than live.

Despite the fakery, it was a big deal and even casual fans found a way to watch it. The dirty little secret of modern life is that watching these things via a pirate stream is getting easier and more difficult to police. As we saw with the music business, the video rackets are nearing that point where the cost of policing the underground feeds will exceed the value of their product. There are simply too many ways to get around the paywalls and blocking mechanisms. This fight was probably the last big pay-per-view fight will see.

That’s always the problem with artificial scarcity. It works for a while as the laws of supply and demand are universal. Make something scarce, relative to demand, and the prices rise. There is another universal law of economics though. Anything that has value will be stolen or faked. That means attempts to create artificial scarcity will be met with equal efforts to get around those barriers. That’s what happened to the music business and now music is just about free. That’s what is happening with pay television.

Still, the fight proved something that our betters have been telling us was no longer true and than is men still like being men. Fights are never and can never be pink hat affairs, where the girls show up and pretend to be fans. Boxing and MMA are male sports aimed explicitly at men. This fight was a contest between a bigger, younger man versus the older, but vastly more skilled smaller man. Men enjoy seeing that sort of thing. We like competition, but we like comparisons and contrasts in our competition.

During the broadcast, it became clear that the on-air people were instructed to use the phrase “combat sport” rather than the more common phrases. My hunch is the promoters saw the numbers for this thing and see a chance to bring fighting back as a popular sport again. Boxing killed itself with corruption and the UFC has a bum problem, but there is a market for good fights and the UFC is great at selling their product to young males. The contrast is styles between McGregor and Mayweather made it a great show.

If they fused the two sports, dropping the wrestling and tackling stuff entirely, there is a good chance they can create fun shows like this on a regular basis. Imagine if McGregor was allowed to kick and rabbit punch. It probably would not have changed the outcome, but it it would have made it a bit more fair. Change the ring to make the ropes more sturdy, like the cage in UFC, and the boxer has to change his strategy. There is a middle ground where you can create fun and interesting contests that men will pay to see.

The other thing the UFC can teach boxing is how to develop its talent. Boxing was destroyed by the crack epidemic. The urban gyms that worked as feeder systems for boxing were wiped out by the crack wars. The young guys looking for a way out of the ghetto were drawn into the big money of the drug game. Those still looking to go straight were too afraid to go into the rough areas where boxing gyms tend to be located. As a result, the flow of young talent in the US evaporated and so did the fan base.

That’s the thing about MMA, which boxing can adopt. Go around the country and the mixed martial arts gyms are now where the old martial arts places were located. That’s in suburban shopping centers. Middle-class white women are fine letting their boys go to these places as it feels safe and their snowflake is not getting bullied by urban blacks or robbed in the parking lot. Boxing can be sold to the white middle-class again, but in has to be sold on their turf. White people with kids no longer live in cities.

That’s not to say boxing can ever make a comeback, at least to the status it once enjoyed. That world is gone. We live in the age of niche sports. Even mighty football (American) is feeling the pinch. There will always be a market for men fighting one another under agreed upon rules. Boxing and MMA are just that. If the end result is some fusion of the two that is both white-ish and suburban, that’s not a terrible result. Healthy cultures have ways for men to compete, as well as watch and encourage other men to compete.

As to the fight itself, it was a fun show. As I pointed out prior to the fight, boxers are vastly better conditioned than MMA guys. McGregor was sucking wind in the third round and by the sixth he was clearly gassed. Mayweather is a great boxer and he knew exactly how to take apart McGregor. That said, the Irishman had a great plan and executed it well. He showed tremendous heart. He was just beaten by the better boxer, like everyone else Mayweather has faced. Both acquitted themselves well. It was a great show.

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Karl Hungus
Karl Hungus
3 years ago

counter intuitively, the heavier gloves used in boxing actually contribute to its fighters getting brain injuries. mma gloves are too thin to allow hard hand strikes to the head.

TWS
TWS
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

The whole point with mma was that different martial arts competed directly with each other with a minimal rule set. Brazilian jujitsu did well because it was effective and designed that rule set. Any size, Any system no protection, except a cup.

Grappling was essential to that. To change it you could allow grips, takedowns and throws but reset if it goes to the ground for say five seconds. Eliminate the gloves and footwear. It would speed up the fights.

TWS
TWS
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

I like to see good takedowns. Not the ground game so much I started in judo when I was eight and wrestled in high school but even knowing what’s going on its boring for me.

Like all real American men I love combat sports. It’s in our blood. Both my grandfather’s boxed. Both my grandmother’s disapproved. But I’d rather watch sumo than straight up wrestling.

Caleo
Caleo
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

The NCAA’s get scant attention because ESPN type producers are obsessed with sportsball. The championships are generally sold out for 3 days wherever they’re held. And the U.S. is unique in it’s disinterest for real wrestling. Olympic wrestling is huge in Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia and many muslim countries with ancient wrestling traditions like Iran and Turkey. Wrestlers are as well known in those countries as NBA/NFL players are here, and financially compensated for their output. By the way, not that you care, but the Men’s U.S. Freestyle team just won the World team title for the 1st time in… Read more »

SWRichmond
SWRichmond
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

The “ground game” is boring as hell and it is why I don’t watch MMA. Booooooorrrrrriiiiinnnnng.

And you are right, (great) boxers are in much better cardio shape than MMA fighters. I still spend some time occasionally on a heavy bag, and at my age I wind pretty quickly. But it still is awesome to pound on the bag, and the pups raise a brow while I’m doing it.

Drake
Drake
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

I lost interest in MMA when the wrestling went out the window. It’s basically kick-boxing now with some grappling when guys get tires.

Another Guy named Dan
Another Guy named Dan
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

The sport you’re describing is K-1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-1#Rules

It has not shown to be popular in the US

Andy
Andy
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

That’s the thing that turned me off watching UFC when it first appeared,there would be a furious exchange of blows both with hands and feet which was great but at some point the fight would go to the ground,but as one who has done competition Judo I know personally how hard ground fighting is and how much skill it takes, its dull as shit to watch.

TWS
TWS
3 years ago

It sounded to me like Mayweather was carrying McGregor. There’s no way an undefeated fighter with his skill couldn’t hit McGregor at will after McGregor was gassed. I figure they both want the money from a rematch.

Member
3 years ago

The black guy beat the arrogant honkey so everyone is happy.

Caleo
Caleo
3 years ago

Zman insists on calling Division 1 wrestlers and world class Jiu Jitsu grapplers and Muay Thai kickboxers bums. Like a leftist who hopes continually calling Trump a Nazi actually makes Trump a Nazi, calling top tier MMA fighters bums means they are actually bums. Zman doesn’t “get” MMA. That’s fine. You don’t like wrestling/grappling, which means no one likes it or gets it. Wrong. Boxers are only vastly better conditioned than MMA fighters IN A BOXING MATCH. Not in a 5 round MMA. I’ve watched Golden Gloves level guys try to wrestle/grapple for the first time and it exhausts them.… Read more »

TWS
TWS
Reply to  Caleo
3 years ago

The skill required for bjj or Olympic wrestling is great but to the uninitiated it can be brutally boring. It looks like a ‘bum fight’. Visually, unless you enjoy wrestling which not many do it’s a good excuse to make a sandwich and come back to find them in exactly the same position five minutes later.

Not even wrestlers try to sell wrestling in its purest form. Lucha underground is most people’s speed. And it’s damn fine tv.

Karl Hungus
Karl Hungus
Reply to  TWS
3 years ago

kimbo slice

Zeroh Tollrants
Zeroh Tollrants
Reply to  Karl Hungus
3 years ago

I’ve got a black lab named after him, RIP.

Karl Hungus
Karl Hungus
Reply to  Zeroh Tollrants
3 years ago

black labs matter

Roulf
Roulf
Reply to  Caleo
3 years ago

I agree. Sitting through those undercard snooze fests only reinforced the perception that boxing is a dying sport. The rules are archaic and far too strict. As rough as it can be toe-to-toe, they confine ‘fighting’ into an unrealistic standup jab fest that usually ends with both guys grabbing each other and swaying around like a couple of drunks on the dance floor. MMA is the future, offering a more complete and entertaining fight experience. In a cage, McGregor would drop take Mayweather within a round or two. Conor was completely out of his element and could only use a… Read more »

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  Caleo
3 years ago

I don’t remember his name, but currently there is an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling competing in the UFC. He’s a top guy, but not the champ at his weight level. No problems with his conditioning.

Kentucky Headhunter
Kentucky Headhunter
3 years ago

“Boxing and MMA are male sports aimed explicitly at men. ”

I don’t follow boxing or MMA, but wasn’t Rousey the biggest name in the game for a couple of years?

“Imagine if McGregor was allowed to kick and rabbit punch… Change the ring to make the ropes more sturdy, like the cage in UFC, and the boxer has to change his strategy. ”

What if we give one guy a trident and like a net and the other guy a spear and buckler?

TWS
TWS
Reply to  Kentucky Headhunter
3 years ago

Nobody without brain damage believed the hype but Rousey was trying to promote a couple of movie deals plus keep her name out there. If the Roadhouse remake goes forward expect something similar before distribution time. There’ll be morons who will eat it up then too.

joe_mama
joe_mama
Reply to  Kentucky Headhunter
3 years ago

Ronda Rousey was something unique and special that you won’t get very often. She had 3 things going for her: 1.> Attractive. She’s a pretty girl, and has that all-american look. A little bit buff, but doesn’t look like a ‘roided out freak (see Cris Cyborg or Gabi Garcia for examples to the contrary). 2.> Good and flashy fighter. Yes, she has her flaws (will get to that in point 3). But she was well credentialed in Judo before coming in and a legit competitor that would end fights in an exciting fashion. I rolled my eyes when Dana White… Read more »

TWS
TWS
Reply to  joe_mama
3 years ago

I’ve never saw her as pretty even as a younger woman. Gina Carano is more my taste.

Tim Newman
3 years ago

the UFC is great at selling their product to young males

With McGregor being far and away their best salesman. Love him or hate him, he’s done more to publicise his sport than anyone.

Allan
Allan
Reply to  Tim Newman
3 years ago

Conor’s “sport” is a step or two up from cock fighting and dog fighting. ‘Tis profitable amusement for louts and refuse described ridiculously as men by our host.

Mike@Mike.Mike
Mike@Mike.Mike
3 years ago

It was a decent match. McGregor seemed to have a very good understanding of his own abilities and limitations, and thus executed his plan to the best of his limits. Mayweather is merely in a class of his own, as it comes to boxing. It was pretty clear his game plan involved toying with McGregor the first 3-4 rounds, as he was barely throwing any punches, but once he decided to turn on his offense, the match was over in short order. They both kept the theatrics to a minimum, so when either would engage in some (McGregor’s [brief] hands… Read more »

TWS
TWS
Reply to  Mike@Mike.Mike
3 years ago

I thought it was going to be an mma fight when I first heard of it. No matter what McGregor’s skill he was still an amateur boxer. How does an untested amateur get a shot? Then I heard it was a boxing match and I knew the fix was in.

Mayweather carried him for half the fight. But they’ll be looking for a rematch soon.

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

The guys who are primarily boxers and who win championships in MMA have very good takedown defense, often referred to as “sprawl”. As they progress in their careers they work more on wrestling and the ability to work off their backs as inevitably they get caught off guard occasionally.

Jackson
Jackson
3 years ago

I don’t think it was that Mayweather was better conditioned as much as that he was vastly more efficient. Conor was throwing punches like there was no tomorrow early in the fight. He was pushing Mayweather away repeatedly, even his strange guard with the right hand extended and used to push Mayweather away must be exhausting compared to the normal boxer’s guard with elbows tucked into ribs.

Still, this should have been modeled in McGregor’s camp. It’s probably hard to get to the real adrenaline levels and calorie burn in a training situation, though.

Severian
3 years ago

“Middle-class white women are fine letting their boys go to [MMA gyms] as it feels safe.” This kills me. Soccer Moms are absolutely hysterical about tackle football — all those concussions, plus eeewww, patriarchy! — but they’re perfectly ok letting them get their spines stretched and ACLs shredded doing some mutant variation of Gracie jiujitsu taught by a self-ordained tough guy. Not to mention the kids in the weight room throwing kettle bells around without the slightest idea what they’re doing to their rotator cuffs…. but at least they won’t suffer a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Severian
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

Yep. Which is why I’m probably wrong, and lacrosse IS the coming thing. Don’t you have to legally change your name to something like “T. Jackington van Pelt IV” to be allowed on the field? 🙂

Ganderson
Ganderson
Reply to  Severian
3 years ago

The ultimate lax bro:

https://youtu.be/Nqg01Nk3SYI

thwack
thwack
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

The single moms wants a sport for their boys, but not one where snowflake will get hurt. So they pick hockey. Hilarious. ****************** Isn’t that the same thing the British did when they invented boxing? Boxing and Western Civilization have a lot in common; rules, rules, rules, referees (policemen) and judges. These rules were designed to give the civilized white man the edge over his more primitive undisciplined nonwhite opponent. But it all fell apart because the nonwhites began to innovate. Now that nonwhites know the rules, and attend the finest boxing schools in existence; MMA is the white man… Read more »

TWS
TWS
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

When my son was five we took him to a hockey game. A fight broke out that lasted twenty minutes. It was the best sporting event he saw live. He talked about it for years.

Andy
Andy
Reply to  TWS
3 years ago

isn’t that the old joke though?
“I went to see a fight and a hockey match broke out”

A.B. Prosper
A.B. Prosper
Reply to  thezman
3 years ago

Also the fear of brain damage is real. A damaged rotator cuff or something is bad but it doesn’t stop a normal enough life

With TBI you are screwed.

Kentucky Headhunter
Kentucky Headhunter
Reply to  Severian
3 years ago

I help coach grade-school football at our private school. It is dying a not-so-slow death brought about by mothers pulling their boys out of football (and their wimp fathers allowing it even if the kid still wants to play) after their baby gets knocked down a couple of times and the kids starting to specialize at 8-10 years old and playing on travel teams year-round in other sports. Lots of requirements put on the dads actually coaching 10-12 hrs/week by parents on sports committees (meet once a month) who won’t actually coach teams themselves. For instance, now we have to… Read more »

A.B. Prosper
A.B. Prosper
Reply to  Kentucky Headhunter
3 years ago

Don’t have a son but I’d never let my kids play football. The risk of permanent brain injury from modern football is far too high.

Beyond that I’m so detached from the culture of the sport and as a parent I couldn’t contribute meaningfully

And agreed that MMA and Hockey have risks, MMA at least provides defensive skills and hockey is whiter than sour cream as far as sports go

TomA
TomA
3 years ago

Physical competition between males is an evolutionary necessity, as it advances the species development and improvement. Eliminate it, and you regress into the insect model of queens and drone males. The current PC movement to kill off these sports is one of the few existential threats that we still face as a species.

thwack
thwack
3 years ago

MMA is for fighters who lack the discipline necessary for boxing.

Just sayin

Caleo
Caleo
Reply to  thwack
3 years ago

Total Bullsh*t.
Just Sayin’.

Rod1963
Rod1963
Reply to  thwack
3 years ago

Total BS.

MMA doesn’t lack discipline at all. MMA fighters don’t box in the ring because of stand up grappling, take downs, trips and leg attacks are part and parcel. It changes the dynamics.

Try to box in MMA and ignore everything else and you get your butt kicked. Do a boxers clinch on a guy who does stand up grappling, throws, etc and he’ll lock up your arms and throw your ass.

Different sports with much different requirements.

Georgiaboy61
Member
Reply to  thwack
3 years ago

The best MMA fighters work for years to develop skills in their base martial art – be it karate, judo, jujitsu, what have you – and then years more learning styles/types of fighting which lie outside their base art. In other words, the grapplers have to learn striking, the stand-up fighters have to learn ground techniques, and so on. All of it demands tremendous self-discipline, drive and willingness to work extremely hard in relative obscurity without any guarantee of a big payday down the road. Sure, MMA has attracted its share of thugs and punks, but boxing hasn’t? Give me… Read more »

thwack
thwack
Reply to  Georgiaboy61
3 years ago

In the real world (as opposed to the boxing ring, etc.), hand-to-hand struggles almost always go to the ground. An individual who finds himself in a fight but lacks a ground game faces a serious disadvantage. **************************** Thats why the key to the “real world” is to take your opponent out without/before ever going to the ground. This is also the arc of military history; knock your opponent out with one “punch” from a distance in the shortest amount of time. We’ve been “wrestling around on the ground” in Afghanistan for 16 years now, same thing in Iraq. WTF is… Read more »

Gary
Gary
3 years ago

I thought the outcome was bordering on the thin line of a great match and one that was almost too conveniently optimal for every party with a bank account. Yeh, I’m a skeptic, but I wonder if it was not totally rigged. Anyone could’ve called that fight. After coming out aggressively, McGregor would be winded by the 4th/5th rounds, and Mayweather would then outbox him for a few rounds until he could start picking him off in the later rounds. Mayweather keeps 50-0, boxing remains legitimate, McGregor is given respect from all fight fans (myself included), and the UFC is… Read more »

Zeroh Tollrants
Zeroh Tollrants
3 years ago

I must be a really weird anomaly. I really enjoy sewing & repairing Civil War purses while watching blood sports…the bloodier the better. The fight was one big yawnfest. I had 5 ripped streams going and CBS was on the ball, zapping them, lost the last one at the end of the 9th, barely missing the TKO, but someone put the whole thing up on YouTube, within 15 min of it ending, so I went back & caught it. Not the biggest waste of an evening I’ve ever spent, I do that all the time, but not a highlight. MacGregor… Read more »

james wilson
james wilson
Reply to  Zeroh Tollrants
3 years ago

No one is prepared to go beyond round six who hasn’t done it.

TWS
TWS
Reply to  james wilson
3 years ago

Try going back after 35. I could have killed the guy who talked me into it.

TWS
TWS
Reply to  Zeroh Tollrants
3 years ago

Yeah, what’s with the purses? :>)

Joey Junger
Joey Junger
3 years ago

Mayweather got his ass handed to him in the first Jose-Luis Castillo fight, and got a gift decision. As to the larger complaint about boxing, that it is being dragged through the ghetto and is a niche sport, both are true if your focus is America. Look at the global scene, though, and you’ll see it’s not true. Canelo Alvarez (a Mexican who looks like an Irishman) and Gennady Golovkin (Kazakh and Korean) are both gentlemen and are making the real boxing event of the year next month. What’s more is tickets for their super-fight sold out pretty quickly, while… Read more »

Gary
Gary
Reply to  Joey Junger
3 years ago

That’s the fight I’ve been waiting for years to see. Two tough, classic, hard-hitting sportsmen at both a strong and fast weight class. Not like the pompous hypemen we saw on Saturday who probably met at the strip club afterwards.

Member
3 years ago

“Boxing can be sold to the white middle-class again, but in has to be sold on their turf.” They’re saying “no” to football these days too in larger numbers than before. Not earth-shattering, but certainly there has been a measurable decline in youth football. PPV didn’t help itself back in the late 80’s and early 90’s with 84 second fights that people forked over good money to watch. I saw this weekend that the NFL is now offering a non-NFLSundayTicket option for out-of-market games for $100 for the entire regular season. That’s way less than DirecTV, and the games are… Read more »

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  hokkoda
3 years ago

Sports are a community for men, and also the training in and demonstration of proficiency in life skills for the participants. Both physical and cooperative life skills. The decline in organized sport (which appears real and ongoing) is a cultural loss for all of us.

The kids are watching televised/broadcasted video game competitions now. Twitchy thumbs and fingers are the new life skills and basis for a community. At least the kids will probably avoid the concussions and chronic headaches I got in high school football.

Member
Reply to  Dutch
3 years ago

Its not simply wimpy/lazy kids. My kids don’t play school sports any more. They’re too smart, so they’ve got work to do. The “sports parents” are assholes on an epic level. The coaches want 6 days a week. My kids are not wanted because they just want to play, learn, compete. If you’re not going for a full ride Div-I scholarship and the State Championship, the attitude of that community is GTFO. My kids all snowboard the back bowls at 12,000′. They got nothin to hang their heads about in terms of courage. But more importantly, they have a future,… Read more »

Matt
Matt
3 years ago

Good work Zman for calling the fight right on the Z cast. I just listened to it today and you were pretty much spot on with the prediction.

thwack
thwack
Reply to  Matt
3 years ago

Andre Berto TRYING to describe what its like to fight Maywether

friggin hilarious:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQjvXRcnPvw

Charlie_U
Charlie_U
Reply to  Matt
3 years ago

It was a spot-on prediction…

I think it’s a shame that UFC/MMA has such a drug problem, too. Okay, it feels like most sports have drug issues nowadays, I guess, but when I see someone like Jon Jones, who had the talent to be the best mixed martial artist of all time, screw up yet again, then I just have to conclude that the guy is a total plonker.