Bar Fights

In my life I have seen some excellent bar fights. Most bar fights are not very entertaining, as one drunk throws a punch at another drunk and it quickly turns into a wrestling match, usually with the two combatants knocking over some chairs and tables on their way to the floor. Once in a while though, you get a good one where the two drunks have the ability to stay upright and the willingness to trade blows. These are the ones that usually start inside, but go outside where they “can settle it like men.”

I once saw a guy setup like Bruce Lee, indicating he was a martial arts guy. He performed a perfectly executed round house kick. His mistake was that the other guy was not a martial arts guy so he ducked and then hit Kung Fu so hard with a right cross that his grandchildren will have headaches. Martial arts man hit the ground like he had been shot and that was the end of it. The crowd went back inside, leaving Kung Fu to search around for what went wrong. When I left he was gone so I guess he lived.

I’ve don’t have much respect for martial arts as a fighting tactic. When I was a little kid, of course, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Then one day an older boy, known for having a black belt, challenged me to a fight. I shot a single leg take down and then broke his nose in an unnecessarily aggressive cradle. When my father was told of my villainy, he bust out laughing. I learned that you can turn a fight into a wrestling match, but you can never turn a fight into a Karate match. It takes two to karate. That’s why my father put me into wrestling, instead of karate.

I thought of this when I read that UFC star Colin McGregor wants to fight boxer Floyd Mayweather. My guess is that it will never happen, but you never know. There are a lot of UFC fans willing to pay good money to see it. Given the two men’s ability to gain attention with their showboating, I bet they could get a $200 million box office for  a fight. I’d probably buy it, even though I know McGregor would end up in the hospital or graveyard. I like freak shows as much as anyone and it would probably be hilarious.

That’s the thing with UFC. It is a modern freak show. They take tough guys and make believe they are highly skilled fighters. The martial arts stuff is a nice touch, because it distracts people from the fact these guys are just tough guys. They are allowed to use the tactics popular in bar fights, like tackling the other guy and kicking him in the groin. The organizers filter out the guys that are not entertaining and they hype the hell out of the events. It’s great marketing, particularly to young males.

That does not change the reality of the situation. McGregor is an excellent bar fighter, but Mayweather is a highly trained professional boxer. Even under the rules of the UFC, he would beat McGregor senseless in the first minute. My bet is the class of fighter you see at armory fights would beat the best UFC guys. The difference in skill, speed and strength is just too big. To even the odds, the rules would have to be altered heavily in favor of the bar fighter so it becomes a wrestling match, rather than a fight.

That reality is why this fight will never happen. The people running the UFC are too smart to have their best star humiliated. They spend too much time developing and marketing their stars to let one of them get beaten up by a real boxer. That would reveal the truth of it too plainly. Most UFC fans get that they are watching bum fights. They just like the back stories and the carnival of it. They can suspend their disbelief as long as all of the fighters are about the same in terms of skill.

My hunch with the UFC has always been that it is choreographed, like professional wrestling. The Kimbo Slice debacle has not been repeated and that tells me the organizers learned their lesson. A lot of people came away from that experience thinking it was just all hype and no real competition. Ever since, they have tried to keep the matches competitive looking, in order to keep up appearances. Whether they go beyond that to make the shows fun is open to debate. Given the age, my bet is they put their thumb on the scales.

Even if it is all on the level, the people running the UFC did not become billionaires by being stupid and it would be very stupid to have their top star beaten senseless by Floyd Mayweather. That’s why it is highly unlikely that it ever happens, at least not as long as McGregor is under contract with the UFC. Even a $200 million payday would not be enough to risk a billion dollar business. It’s much better to let fans pretend that these bar fighters are real fighters.

66 thoughts on “Bar Fights

  1. The original UFC fights (as in the very first couple of tournaments) did have boxers. They lost, and lost badly. Basically, they had no idea how to defend against takedowns, etc. It may go differently with someone like Mayweather, but the other boxers who’ve tried it did not show well.

  2. Zman, your defense of traditional boxing as a sport and martial skill is welcome, for boxing isn’t obsolete – the best practitioners of the sweet science are formidable fighters indeed. We also share in common a love for middle-weight fighters; I too have always enjoyed the lighter and middle-weight bouts for their combination of athleticism, speed, toughness and skill. Still, I grew up in the era of all of those great heavyweight fighters between Ali, Frazier, Foreman and their cohorts – who can forget those? Smokin’ Joe will always be my main man!

    Where we run into problems is with your casual dismissal of MMA and the Asian martial arts. We can agree that some of the seedier sides of MMA fall short – the thug aspect, tattoos everywhere, etc. Where you are wrong is that the finest MMA fighters are world-class athletes and fighters every bit as deserving of respect as any elite boxer. I’m talking about guys like George St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, and their peers – both current and in the recent past. few measure up to a pro boxer in terms of boxing only, but how many boxers can you name who are experts in Brazilian Jujitsu or Hapkido or Krav Maga? Very few, I imagine. Why? Boxing is different from the traditional Asian martial arts and from MMA-style arts.

    Your dismissal of the traditional Asian arts is uncalled for and founded upon ignorance. Many of the Asian systems were born on the battlefield or designed explicitly for combat during historical eras mush less peaceful than our own.
    We don’t need to go back to 17th century Japan or China to prove the real-world effectiveness of traditional Asian arts, however, we merely need to examine what our finest military and law-enforcement people are using today out at the tip of the spear.

    The Army and Marine Corps both have combative systems which blend several martial arts disciplines into a unified curriculum giving the individual soldier or Marine the capability of engaging a threat standing or on the ground, at the various ranges encountered in hand-to-hand (CQB) combat. Grand Master John Pellegrini has traveled the globe in recent years teaching military, security and law-enforcement professionals the art of combat hapkido. Korean Hapkido – the art upon which Pellegrini’s system is based – is used by members of the security detail of the South Korean presidential guard, all of whom are required to be expert in the art. They wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t effective; lives – their own and that of the president – depend on it.

    Founder Imi Lichtenfeld, creator of the Israeli fighting system of Krav Maga, built his art by studying as many other fighting systems and martial arts as possible, incorporating the best features of each into his system. Krav Maga has been used by Israeli soldiers and police – with great success, I might add – on the battlefield and in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the world.

    When evaluating fighting styles and martial arts disciplines, we should take care to distinguish between those done for sport and those practiced in the real world. Faulting MMA for not being realistic enough misses the point; mixed martial arts – if they were done without any rules whatsoever – would be very brutal indeed. However, if that was the case, the sport would probably be deemed illegal and outlawed. The same goes for boxing; we no longer allow bare-knuckles boxing in the U.S. because the potential for permanent injury or death is so great. By definition, real-world fighting – especially in the battlefield environment – has fewer if any rules. Our special ops people have a saying which applies: if it is a fair fight, you are doing something wrong.

    In closing, I would like to say that lovers of the fighting sports and arts ought to spend less time bickering with one another about whose system is best – a dispute which can’t be answered definitively – and more time uniting to protect our arts from those who would outlaw them entirely. The nanny-staters, hand-wringers and the like would like nothing better than to outlaw all full-contact sports – whether boxing, martial arts, pro football, hockey, or wrestling. Shouldn’t we be concentrating our energies on them instead?

  3. It’s interesting to note how fierce the commenting is on this post, especially when compared with more political posts. Please allow me to introduce a crossover:

    Weight classes are the thin end of the wedge for the egalitarianism that ruins societies and sports alike. We take them for granted in boxing and wrestling, but why not sprinting? Shouldn’t we have sprinting weight classes to give the big guys a chance to compete? Think of all the wonderful competitions we’re deprived of by preventing 280-pounders from sprinting against one another. Or marathons. There’s loads of untapped potential in the high 200-range.

    But of course the reason for classes in the one but not the other is that they are designed to favor the weak–to give the weak a safe space where the strong cannot enter. Suggesting a safe space for the strong where the weak cannot enter will be greeted with the same enthusiasm as suggesting a return to racial segregation in education or housing. And if there were a sport women were naturally better at, good luck getting a safe males-only version of it going.

    Bonus thought:

    Rules and protective hand coverings in any combat sport protect joints, eyes, and genitalia against harm, at the expense of actively encouraging brain damage. Why is a dislocated shoulder politically incorrect but Parkinsons-type debility just fine? Reminds me of how we can’t spank our kids now but we can have doctors surgically remove their genitals.

  4. These days MMA fighters are fairly generic. 15 years ago there were guys were were almost pure strikers and others almost pure grapplers. Both breeds are extinct now since a balanced fighter can exploit either weakness – and they all learn take-down and ground defense so well that submissions are more rare now.

    A Mayweather fight against any high-level MMA fighter would be short. If Mayweather caught him with a couple of good shots, it would be over. If Mayweather missed and got taken down, he would be submitted in seconds. I’ve seen those fights – almost a coin flip as the wrestler shoots in.

    • The problem the MMA partisans have when thinking about this stuff is they are far too deeply invested in the sport. A Mayweather – McGregor fight would not happen in a cage under MMA rules. There’s no way a boxer would agree to those terms. It would be a regulation boxing rink with ropes. In exchange, the MMA guy would be allowed to tackle, strangle, kick and so forth. An MMA guy would have to absorb a lot of blows to the head in order to get close enough to use his “ground game.”

      That’s what the MMA people fail to understand. The reason for the small ring and fixed enclosure is to prevent the stick and run tactics of boxing. They want quick fights with action.

        • That’s the most likely outcome. My opinion is that even the best MMA guys would be at a huge disadvantage in the regular boxing ring. Similarly, the best boxers would be at a huge disadvantage in the MMA cage.

          Where I part ways with MMA partisans is that the MMA guys don’t know how to avoid being hit by guys who really know how to punch. They face very poor punchers so they would struggle defending themselves.

  5. And yet, the BIG battle money goes to WWF(et al), (Jerry)Springer vs Evolution, (Andy)Kaufman vs vaginas, Riggs vs. King, and Stein/Clinton vs “Oh WAIT! Rigged Election Fraud”.

  6. As Mr. Obama leaves office after a stunning exhibition of New World Order-Fu,
    Mr. Trump drops him with one shot…”Donnie don’t play that!”.
    I expect the vanquished to continue “yapping” from the safe-zone behind mommy’s apron of
    third tier “comedian” shows, and interviews with recent “communications” grads.
    I expect the usual….start a fight, lose, then call the world police, claiming he dindo nuffin.
    The CCTV slo-mo instant replay is inadmissible, because of “special” rules of proscecutorial discretion of course, you know, like for Ms. Clinton’s “technical decision”.

  7. Boxing is basically dead as a spectator sport, mostly because it has become a defensive sport. This phenomenon probably had its roots in Ali’s rope a dope with Foreman, but Mayweather is certainly a master of winning a boxing match by covering up and not getting hit for 12 rounds. Regulation hasn’t helped, either. Boring. Unwatchable.

    MMA is cleaning up as a spectator sport precisely because its an offensive sport. MMA fighters have too many tools in the tool bag. You can’t just lean up against the fence in the octagon and cover up to deflect body blows. If you do your opponent will throw you to the mat, mount you, and pound you to a pulp.

    I agree with the posters who say that under MMA rules Mayweather goes down in the first round. Under boxing rules McGregor is toast.

    Fun story: my brother once sat next to Floyd Mayweather’s mother on a flight to Vegas. She was flying in to watch one of his matches.

    • Ex-wrestler myself; I think you make an observation and then don’t follow it to its logical conclusion; as you state, in street fighting, ground and pound usually wins; that’s exactly how MMA initially started off…it settled, at least at the beginning, who would wln; a Dan Gable or a Bruce Lee…undisputably, early MMA was dominated by grapplers; but, red-queen’s race, strikers, out of necessity, had to develop formidable takedown defenses; MacGregor has emerged as just such a fighter. I’m sure Mayweather would kill in in a straight-up boxing match just as MacGregor would kill him in a MMA venue.

      • Your mistake is to assume that Boxing Guy agrees to fight under MMA rules. Instead, the compromise would be an event that takes place in a boxing ring with ropes. MMA Guy would find many of his tactics no longer work. He would also have to learn how to fight at a distance against a guy who can move faster than MMA guys.

        • If you look at the ruleset as a vin diagram then boxing is completely encompassed by MMA rules. The boxer sacrifices nothing from his game in that scenario, and shouldn’t he sacrifice something in this experiment?

    • I don’t know anything about MMA, but I know Floyd Mayweather owes me a few hundred bucks for his last few PPV fights. That guy spends more time on his bicycle than Lance Armstrong. Which is why I assume he’d win a fight with anyone slower than him, no matter what the rules — Floyd’s runs away better than the French army (credit where credit’s due, though, he looks good doing it).

      • If the recent Ryan Hall fight is any indication, he’d spend the entire match getting kicked in the face while running away from takedown attempts and never get within boxing range.

        • The problem you have is you imagine a boxer agreeing to forfeit all of his advantages for the right to climb into the cage with an MMA guy. That’s like me saying I can beat a MMA guy as long as I’m permitted to bring my .45 into the ring.

          The most likely outcome is the bout takes place in a boxing ring with ropes. The MMA guy then realizes how fast boxing guy is because his attempts to tackle boxing guys are met with head shots and movement. MMA guy suddenly has to have a new set of tactics.

          • That actually sounds like every MMA championship fight about 10 years ago as all the grapplers like Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Urijah Faber, and Frank Mir lost their championships to better strikers who could defend against takedowns.

            I watch far less MMA now than I used to because I would rather see more wrestling.

  8. From a combatives (basically trying to kill or maim someone who is trying to kill or maim you) perspective, opening with a kick is pretty weak. A kick takes a long time to develop, is pretty easy to react to when you’re fresh, and takes a long time to recover from. Get the nose bleeding or eyes swelling up, then break a rib or cripple a knee with a kick.

    Like the guy who taught me knife fighting told me, whittle them down before going for the kill. Cut the forearm of the knife hand (blood dripping down on to the knife hand to loosen up the grip), cut the scalp or forehead (blood flowing into the eyes to blind), hamstring them, then go for the kill.

    • Took me ten seconds to learn all I needed to know about knife fights: bring a gun any to place where there may be one. Even better, don’t go there. So I have never been in a knife fight. Still have the first gun, too.

      • The real rules of fighting

        1) don’t go to places where there are many fights
        2) avoid getting into a fight if someone is instigating one with you
        3) if a person is attacking you although you have made it clear you do not wish to fight this constitutes assault with intent to cause grevious bodily harm
        4) a felony is being committed and you are in fear of your life
        5) pull out your legally concealed firearm, check your backstop and fire repeatedly at center mass until the aggressor is lying down and unable to continue the assault
        6) holster weapon and call 9-11 immediately “i was in fear of my life, please send an ambulance and police to XXX address”
        7) hang up and call lawyer you have on retainer
        8) when officers arrive hold hands up and follow all instructions calmly and carefully
        9) say “I was in fear of my life” and do not answer any questions without your lawyer present

        • Ultimately, that is certainly your right, but do you really want to kill some young guy for being a loud mouth drunk asshole? Is that a crime worthy of death? Do you want that on your conscience? I personally would rather kick his ass and let him live to see the error of his ways.

          • Any person that pulls a weapon out with the express intent to use said weapon is taking their lives into their own hands and risking death in return. Period. There are no backsies when threatening to harm others.

            A Grandma

          • And then there’s “What part of LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE” don’t you understand? If the a&&hole doesn’t back off, his tough luck he puts his hands on me. His mistake, not mine.

          • He’s not a loud mouth drunk, he’s a perpetrator of a crime against a person. How do I know the encounter doesn’t end with my death?

            Screw him.

  9. What’s strange is I looked at the same information and came to the opposite conclusion. Bar fights end up going to the ground so that’s a boxer’s advantage? You learned you can always turn a fight into a wrestling match, and somehow concluded that boxers will have an advantage over fighters who typically have a wrestling background?

    Anyway, the UFC is not martial arts, which seems to be implied. Groin kicks are not legal, so it appears your knowledge of it is limited. The UFC along with similiar organizations existed to answer the very question underlying the post, to see if the fighting styles actually worked. As you’ve noticed karate was not all that useful when facing someone who wasn’t following karate rules so it’s not used a technique, certainly not a sole one. But the same was true for boxers, who would get taken down, and wrestlers who couldn’t strike.

    Eventually the fighters evolved to be able to defend a myriad of techniques, strikes, take downs, and submissions as well as to use them. If they do not, they won’t go far. Many in the UFC have a wrestling background competing in college and sometimes the olympics. I have no doubt Mayweather is the superior boxer, but boxing is like Karate, or wrestling- a discipline that requires your opponent to play along with the rules. UFC guys can box, but boxers can’t kick or do take downs which is why Mayweather would probably be taken down easily.

    I would also question whether boxing even has the best athletes anymore. I see more MMA gyms than boxing ones.

  10. Here is a general rule on the subject of fights. If the guy you’re thinking of fighting has fucked up ears it might be best to leave him alone.

  11. I will be the first to admit I know nothing about professional fighting. I have, however, played in bars and clubs all over the world for nearly 60 years, and seen hundreds of bar fights.
    They seem to follow a set pattern. Nearly all are initiated by a fellow who came to the bar to specifically pick a fight, or protect his reputation as a fighter. The balance are initiated by some guy’s chick, just to see him fight.
    The ugly fights are two chicks, over some smug guy.
    Human nature seems to be hard wired to fight to temporarily control something they’ll never own.

  12. As long as we’re recommending styles I suggest that people might want to look into daito-ryu aikijutsu. It’s one of the four or five parent arts of aikido. There are many similarities to jiu-jitsu. This is not to get into the “this art is better than that one”, just that it’s worthy of a look.

  13. You should do Jujitsu. It’s probably the most age friendly and it’s good exercise. You’ll also learn something about martial arts. Two huge insights I got from my experience with them. Practice makes perfect, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Simply being in many fights removes the anxiety associated with fighting, and getting your ass kicked, and doing something, thoughtfully, allows you to improve even if there is no underlying system or philosophy.

    Some people just aren’t good at a certain thing, no matter how much they’ve paid someone to teach them, and that explains some of the ineffectiveness you’ve noticed, but the desire to avoid injury while you practice, or compete is responsible for much of the rest. This watering down to allow controlled competition to happen has had a drastic reduction in effectiveness of many martial arts. If you want to make something a sport, then you won’t find many long careers when you allow groin kicking, throat punching, or eye gouging. That’s my two paragraph summation of what I’ve learned from martial arts.

      • plenty of gyms don’t do the standup part, or don’t do it very often. Last gym I went to Randori started from a one knee position. If you wanted to do much of any standup you did Judo. However, Judo is the most painful thing you’ll ever do without getting punched.

        • also that gym discouraged joint manipulation of the knees, for obvious reasons. The jujitsu was definitely dumbed down for general consumption, but this avoidance of all things that were high percentage causes of injuries meant you went nearly 100% during randori(sparing) and learned that segment very quickly. How you were going to get the guy on the ground, in a fight, if he knew anything at all was your problem.

  14. I love your blog but this is just ridiculous. It’s as if you have never actually watched the UFC, or that the last 20 years of technical development in MMA hasn’t happened. I used to wrestle and train in BJJ, including regularly training with active MMA fighters, and you are seriously mistaken if you think these guys aren’t Olympic caliber athletes.
    You guys are debating whether or not a good wrestler can destroy an elite boxer ? Are you kidding me ?
    Please go back and watch the last 20 years of technique and tactical development in MMA.
    It’s as if you watched the 1st couple of UFC’s and then posted this.
    To call elite, or even 2nd and 3rd tier pro MMA guys unskilled tough guys is patently ridiculous. Please visit NYC, where I live, and go to Marcelo Garcia’s club or Renzo’s and get on the mat and roll with some competitive MMA fighters, or better yet, challenge them to a fight outside, and then lecture everyone about their lack of skill.
    The UFC is marketed as a circus, but that has nothing to do with the skill level of the fighters. And most knowledgable MMA fans and commentators know how skilled Conor is and what he’s capable of, including against Mayweather.
    Good God Z, this is just goofy.
    Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed today ?

      • That’s not my point, which is actually training with guys like this for years, and following the development of the sport closely will demolish any illusions that they are simply tough guys with no skills. A majority of high level MMA fighters come from elite circles of wrestling, BJJ, Judo and Sambo and Muay Thai kickboxing. They are not talentless bums.
        Most top tier fighters are world class athletes and deserve respect for their commitment to what is, in my opinion, the toughest sport on Earth.
        Also let me make clear that I love this blog and I’m a big fan of your work here. I read it everyday and have great respect for your perspective, which I mostly share.
        I just strongly disagree with your opinion on this.

  15. UFC must have changed since the last time I watched it — my recollection was that the best UFC fighters were actually wrestling guys who took the fight to the ground as fast as possible. Has that changed?

    By the way, when you say “martial arts,” I think what you mean is “Asian-style martial arts.” Most genuine martial artists consider boxing a true “martial art,” just as much as karate or kung fu, and have the highest respect for boxers. I believe Bruce Lee was quite a fan of boxing.

    As far as Mayweather vs. McGregor — I suspect you’re right, Mayweather would kill McGregor. But I also think the difference in quality between MMA and boxing is due mostly to the fact that the best fighters go into boxing rather than MMA; boxing is still the “prestige” platform which skims off the top talent. That might eventually change, though, if younger fans keep flocking to MMA. Who knows?

    It does seem like the MMA guys have a hell of a lot more tattoos than boxers, which says something, I think — perhaps about their respective levels of dedication to the craft? Tattoos take time, time which boxers probably think would be better spent at the gym.

    • Fantastic comment regarding their tattoos Mr. Blank. Made me laugh out loud. I remember back in the 90’s when “soon to be NFL bust of eternity” Tony Mandarich, for my beloved Packers opened his mouth to challenge The Champ Iron Mike to a bout. I doubt Mr. Tyson cared one iota about what that “gnat” might think. Although that gnats hairline was somewhere around 6′ 6″. I was truly wishing such a match might become reality but alas it wasn’t meant to be. “The Incredible Bulk” would I’m certain be still smelling the salts in about the time it took me to get this far into it. Although Mandarich was not even close a MMA fighter I just recall that loudmouth issuing a challenge….or was it signing his own death warrant?? Either way I was looking forward to a fight I new was never going to happen. One could only wish…

  16. Rhonda Roussuey is a classic example of what you talk about. She was hyped like crazy and fed a series of ham and egg fighters until her last fight when she went up against a competent kickboxer that destroyed her. She realized she wasn’t the legend she was told she was.

    Before her, they promoted Brock Lesnar from the WWF, who had mixed results in the ring and steroid problems.

    That said there’s more than a wiff of WWF style hype in the UFC, I’ve seen them put in fighters who have zero business in the ring and only got a express ticket to brain damage. Then there is the PED use among many fighters.

    • And where was that competent kickboxer when she beat Rousey? Could that have taken place in an MMA cage? And didn’t that world champion female boxer then get beaten in her next fight? And that one, too? My goodness. That MMA stuff couldn’t be competitive, could it?
      If they were taking all that they would’ve kept milking Rousey for a couple more years. Biggest draw they ever had. No. It’s not fake. It’s not “choreographed”. Those people actually get their butts kicked. One guy got his skull crushed in Bellator a while back.

    • Roussuey lost because she tried to fight like a boxer, which she is not. When she fought like the submission artist she is, she dominated. I suspect the rematch will be short and brutal and Roussuey will win.

      • I had an instructor once, a great guy, he was a jujitsu/judo black belt, and he was bad. He decided that he was going to do a MMA fight. He trained “MMA” style, and lost badly. Afterward I said good fight, but he said that wasn’t true he sucked. I said you didn’t suck, because that wasn’t you up there. That was your impression of an MMA fighter, and you suck at impressions.

      • I totally agree. That was my summary of the fight. She did not fight “her” fight. She tried to fight standing and trading punches which was dumb. If she would have done her thing, she would have been fine. But as it is, at least she knows her weakness and if a true champion, will work to eliminate that area and build it into a strength.

  17. I used to watch boxing. Switched to MMA several years back. Boxing is for pussies.
    When I was a kid I used to get into a lot of fights and I got tired of having my face bashed in by kids that were bigger, older, faster and had longer arms than me. So I bought a Judo book and taught myself. Once I could get a takedown on a guy he was basically done. I was smaller and slower, but also stronger. Getting them to the floor got them into my realm.
    I always wondered through the years why there wasn’t something like what I had done in sports. I’d heard of cage fighting but with all the bad press, I thought little of it and never watched. Then one day I stumbled into the basement while my boys were watching MMA. That’s the day I stopped watching boxing.

  18. I would say you’re right and wrong regarding the skill level in MMA/UFC. I wrestled in high school, and have boxed and train in brazilian jiu-jitsu. In terms of the standup skill level – you’re absolutely right that it’s amateur hour out there. It’s a lot of slop. There are a few gems here and there, but there’s a long way to go.

    Where I would disagree is in regards to the ground game component. A skilled wrestler (and there are some high level wrestlers in the UFC these days, like Cormier, Cejudo, plenty of All American College guys etc), should be able to take down a Mayweather and win the fight that way. What you said above is correct though – McGregor would still likely lose in an MMA rules match vs Mayweather. He’s got decent ground defense (good at getting back to his feet), but doesn’t have good takedowns. Good wrestlers can dictate where the fight takes place.

    There’s certainly a good deal of protective matchmaking that goes on, McGregor is a good example, Nick Diaz in Strikeforce was another great example (keep high level wrestlers away from him). Disagree on the skill level though. Those same armory guys are doing some degree of amateur MMA stuff on average, and there are tons of feeder and low-level orgs to let the good talent rise to the top.

    Back to McGregor though, you are correct, there is no way that fight is happening. From McGregor’s end, it’s likely just negotiating tactics.

    • I think that’s the real difference. An elite level wrestler could give an elite boxer trouble. The ring would have to be smaller so the boxer could not just punch and move. A wrestler has no skill at deflecting punches so he would need the smaller ring to force the action into close quarters. It would also depend on the wrestler too. Free style guys would have some trouble, but greco-roman guys would do well.

      If you were trying to make a match between a boxer and a MMA guy, the sticking points would be the size of the ring and the ropes. Most of the MMA guys rely on the close quarters and the fixed sides of the fight area.

  19. I love your stuff Z but this article begs a reply. I am no student of MMA, but i have watched as much of it as I have watched boxing, both with that same “just to see what happens” interest. I have also watched boxing slowly die as at least an American sport, for the last 30 years, for many reasons, while MMA grows. I have also been in a few fights, bar or otherwise, and you are correct about how they mostly end up. Which is why your own example about karate proves your opinion about a boxer vs. an MMA fighter flawed. You need two boxers to make a boxing match, just like karate. From what I know a majority of MMA fighters have an extensive background in ground fighting, grappling, Greco-Roman, whatever. As soon as an MMA fighter can take a boxer to the ground, all of the boxer’s skills as a professional puncher are completely eliminated. This certainly applies to a McGregor-Mayweather contest.

    • That’s is certainly true, but everyone in making the fight would know that. So, the boxer would demand a regulation ring with ropes. He would concede the tackling and groin kicking. The MMA would struggle to get to the boxer without being beaten to a pulp. Now, if the boxer was dumb enough to sign off on the fight taking place under MMA rules, then you’re probably right, but that’s not what would happen. There would have to be a mixed set of rules. There’s where things change quickly for the mMA guy.

  20. Off the mat and outside of the dojo things are very different.

    There is nothing wrong with either wrestling or karate as sports, but once you get outside where there’s blades and bottles and asphalt it’s a different world.

    You know what happens when you take someone to the ground and start to pound them outside a bar?

    Their girl friend kicks you in the face or their buddy breaks a bottle on the back of your head.

    Or this:

    If you need to get someone on the ground and keep them from getting up, throw them then put the boot in *hard*. Head, ribs and groin. Or you’re just playing.

    • A world class bar brawler follows a few essential rules: Never strike with your hands when a suitable object is available. Never follow your opponent to the ground, back off and put the boots to work. Bar fights never seem to materialize from the ether, if you expect aggressive action, ALWAYS strike first and follow the above rules. When your opponent has been vanquished, get out of Dodge with all speed. Never brag after the fact.

  21. Ali bit at the martial artist thing back in the day when fought a Japanese legend in Tokyo. As you predicted the fight lasted about two minutes before the Mr. Kung went to the ground like a crab on it’s back for the duration and wouldn’t get up. Japanese crowds don’t boo but that was a snooze and Ali didn’t sign up for a wrestling match. Still, a boxer should not get into a contest with an actual world class judo guy, but you never see them in bar fights either.

    • The thing with martial arts competitions is they make the rules such that both guys have to use the techniques of the martial art. That’s perfectly sensible. When you are talking about putting two guys in an open space and they are allowed to use whatever skills they choose, then a lot of martial arts techniques lose their value. The understanding of leverage and the physical training are useful, but the moves are not so much. The same is true of wrestling.

      There’s a reason the only boxers we have seen in MMA are washed up old guys decades past their prime. James Toney was 50 and did not bother to train so he was tackled by the best MMA guy of the time and lost. Take a 25 year old world class boxer and train him to fight an MMA guy and the MMA guy ends up in the morgue.

      • If you follow the MMA ruleset which is minimal, then he’ll be taken to the ground and beaten to a pulp in the first round, especially if he’s facing a former world class wrestler. Those guys have amazing take downs, but Judo is trickier, but relies too heavily on the gi(traditional martial arts uniform), and that has limited it’s effectiveness in MMA that has no gi. Which goes back to my point in the first post. The process of creating a sport out of a martial art reduces it’s effectiveness as a martial art, but there is no fun in having a Astin Martin if you can’t drive it, so the conversion to sport was inevitable.

    • There’s a wiki article about whatever it was that went on between Ali and wrestler Antonio Inoki:

      In the days leading up to the fight Ali and Inoki’s representatives began to renegotiate the rules. A list of restrictions was imposed on Inoki. He would not be allowed to throw, grapple or tackle Ali, and could not land any kicks unless he had one knee on the mat.[3] Ali’s camp also demanded that the rules not be made public before the fight. Judo expert and US Marine Donn Draeger noted: “The rules have been so seriously modified that the contest is no longer boxing versus wrestling. Unless this were done there would be no way to choreograph the match and make it look convincing. Ali can grapple or punch the man down; Inoki is not allowed to leg-dive or tackle. That latter restriction is the same as prohibiting Ali from jabbing. What a farce!”[4]

      Forty years after the fight, the referee Gene LeBell stated that there were no limitations on kicking or grappling and said all types of kicking, throwing and grappling were allowed.[6]

      Professional wrestler Bret Hart, then an employee of Inoki’s, claimed in his autobiography that “the black Muslims who were backing Ali made it clear that if Inoki laid a finger on their champ, they would kill him. That’s why Inoki lay on his back for fifteen rounds, kicking Ali in the shins so as not to use his hands”.[7]

      The fight was poorly received. The crowd at the Budokan threw rubbish into the ring and chanted “Money back! Money back!”. Donn Draeger said of the response: “the Budokan janitorial people took almost a full day to clean up the garbage that was hurled at the two ‘combatants’ as the result of their lousy performance”.[4]

      The public, unaware of the restrictions put on Inoki, were critical of his tactics during the fight. During the fight Ali’s left leg was badly swollen and bleeding, which led to an infection. He also suffered two blood clots in his legs affecting his mobility for the remainder of his boxing career. At one point amputation was also discussed.[3]

  22. I tried watching UFC for about two weeks and quickly became bored with it all. The two things I do like about the UFC are the 5 minute rounds and the restraint in calling time for injuries.

    When I was a kid my dad used to take me to the old Olympic in downtown L.A. to see fights and always watched them on KTLA (11) and KCOP (13). He taught me the best fights were the middleweights for the tactics and action. Currently I always catch the fights of those two Russians (can’t remember their names) who take punishment like madmen, hang in there and destroy their American and British opponents.

     One of my biggest gripes about boxing is when they changed from 15 to 12 rounds (in lower ranks from 12 to 10 in some cases). That falls in line with the general pussification of sports and our culture in general (and one of the primary reasons the NFL is dying on the vine).

  23. McGregor already got his ass handed to him once, and that was just another MMA fighter.

  24. Haha Floyd wouldn’t last a round against a low-level MMA fighter under MMA rules, and yes, he would slaughter Connor in a boxing match. You have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s not like high level boxers haven’t tried to enter MMA before.

    • A 50 year old Ray Mercer counts as a high level boxer? Now who has no idea what he is talking about?

      Like I said, UFC is fine. It’s just another WWE for kids to enjoy.

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