Sunday, May 12, 2013

MMA loyalty vs. Boxing casualty among fans

With the rare weekend where there is no major MMA or boxing event, I've decided to write about something I've noticed more and more over the last few years. It is the unwavering loyalty MMA fans have versus boxing fans. Now before boxing fans, of which I am one, decide to hurl defensive comments at me, listen first to what I am talking about.

I'm not trying to suggest that one group of fans is more hardcore over the other; and I'm definitely not saying boxing fans are not knowledgeable about their sport. However, I am saying that the majority, not all, boxing fans are definitely casual in their approach to fights that are not main event status. How do I know? The proof is in the pudding whenever you watch either sport at home with a group of friends.

As stated above, I am and have been a boxing fan for as long as I can remember; this is easily over 40 of my 50 years on this earth. Thus, I was a fan long before MMA came on the scene in 1993. Over the last 25+ years I have watched numerous fights on pay-per-view, if not at my home with friends, then at some other friend's or relative's home. Hell, I just did it last weekend when I was invited to a friend's house to watch the Mayweather/Guerrero fight; note, I said I was invited to watch the main event.

Of course I was invited over before the PPV began at 9PM, but truth be told not too many people were interested in the undercard; which is my point in this column. When it comes to boxing events on PPV, most boxing fans are in it for the main event. It is rare that an undercard fight gets any love, let alone viewing. Boxing fans with an open mind will acknowledge what I'm saying is true.

How many times have you been over a friend's house for boxing and during the undercard, there is music blaring, conversation taking place about topics other than the fight at hand and just straight socializing? Sometimes, more often than not, if there is another sporting event on, such as a football or basketball game, that will take precedence with the occasional click on the remote over to the PPV to see where we're at on the card in relation to the main event. When it comes to boxing, it happens all the time.

MMA fans are a totally different breed; I know because besides being one, I know many "MMA Junkies" across the country and world very well. MMA fans will not only watch every fight on the card, from the very first prelim to the main event, but MMA fans will watch the weigh-ins for every single fight on the card from beginning to end. In terms of the UFC, this can number up to as many as 12 fights on a card; yet it makes no difference.

The UFC understands this loyalty from their fans all too well, which is the reason they are gracious in giving their fans all of their fights, up until the PPV main card, for free. That means access to the very early prelims on Facebook live streams and featured preliminary bouts on either the FX or Fuel TV network. When a UFC fan knows there is a fight card on, they don't ask when does the PPV start, they want to know when the first prelim starts.

As I watch the preliminary fights on Facebook, I am either chatting with other MMA fans on-line about the fights taking place or texting with many of my MMA Junkie friends from across the nation about the fight taking place. On another note, when it comes to live shows, it is the same argument. Watch last week's prelim fights and you saw empty seats everywhere; by comparison, at a live UFC show, I'm not saying the arena is packed for the first fight, but fans show up in large numbers for the first bell.

One part of the problem is boxing does not promote their up and coming fighters. Outside of ESPN 'Friday Night Fights', where are you going to get introduced to potential prospects? The UFC meanwhile has their own reality show where they introduce you to tomorrow's stars and then helps promote their fighters with such events as Fan Expos; Bellator Fighting Championships is also beginning their own reality show.

How loyal are MMA fans? They'll stand in a long line just to take a photo with Keith Jardine (as can be seen in the photo above); not a superstar like Jon Jones or Georges St. Pierre.but Keith Jardine; a fringe contender at best, however at the time it made no difference to MMA fans because they were familiar with the fighter. Second reason is the fights themselves.

MMA prelims are only three five minute rounds, where as boxing prelims are usually 10 rounds; unless it is a title fight, which automatically makes it 12. It seems like an eternity till the main event in boxing, where as in MMA, it feels as though the fights are flying by. Not to mention, shorter scheduled fights promote more action. There's no such thing as feeling out rounds or taking a round off in a three round fight.

I know this all sounds unfair to the boxing fan, but I'm just pointing out the obvious. Except for a select few who truly appreciate that when any two people step in the ring, regardless if it's the first fight on PPV or the co-main event, anything is possible. I know boxing as a sport isn't going anywhere, but unless the casual attitude by its fans doesn't change, the loyalty of MMA fans will continue to help its sport grow and prosper.

1 comment:

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