I Hate To Admit It, But White Is Right

First of all, I freely admit that I am more than a few days tardy with the news/outcry over the comments made by Ulitmate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White’s recent comments in a story by Miguel Lopez of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.  In the piece, White goes on the record criticizing the state of boxing, specifically the mega-fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in 2007.

“I used (boxing) as the blueprint of what not to do. Boxing doesn’t do what I would do if I was running one of these cards,” White said. “When De La Hoya and Mayweather had their pay-per-view with over 1 million buys, he could have stacked that card with all the talent Golden Boy has. You know why he didn’t? He didn’t want to give up the money. Nobody in boxing is willing to invest money back into boxing’s future. We do in the UFC. The money that we make we invest back into the business. We use it to help the grow the sport. Nobody in boxing is willing to do that. And because of that, in my opinion, they have no reason to sit around and (cry) their sport is dying. A lot of people love that De La Hoya is a fighter and the promoter but thing is, it leaves you short-sighted. And he only cares about himself. He knows he gets the pay-per-views when he fights but he doesn’t stack the card with fights that will build future fights. You have to invest in a company and De La Hoya is not willing to do that.”

Arguably, White is one of the most poarizing people in combative sport.  Either you love his brutal honesty and take no prisoners approach to his MMA outfit, or you hate his arrogance and lable him a loud mouthed asshole.  I really have no comment on him given my casual viewing of the UFC, and I hate to admit it, but White does bring up a very valid point.

The De La Hoya – Mayweather event had the potential to catapult boxing back into the public consciousness, to capture and nurture a crop of new fans.  But to put it bluntly, the undercard sucked monkey balls.  It was so bad and devoid of any substantial action that those in attendance at the fight party I attended, threatened to watch home movies rather than the undercard bouts. It’s become common practice to reel fans in with a big PPV main event, only to be subjected to two or three piss-poor undercard bouts.  Boxing does not do its current fans much justice after asking them to fork over $50 to witness the sport they love so much, nor does it take into consideration trying to bring in new fans by putting on competative undercards.  Not that every undercard bout needs to be a barn-burner, but spare us record building fights for your young prospects.  Save those fights for the untelevised portion of the card.

Not that White is completely accurate in his assesment of our beloved sport, there is of course an obvious bias to his words, but he does speak of some issues that boxing faces.  Also, let us not be content in thinking that the UFC model is perfect.  It’s a known fact that UFC, and MMA fighters the world over, are paid a pittance when compared to their boxing brethern.  Sure the UFC has used the money they save on purses to create and market the brand, but anyone brave enough to swap punches for a living should be paid resonably when compared to the revenue that their risk helps create.

I admit that there are some marketing and promotional aspects that MMA simply does better than the archaic mindset that boxing’s power brokers subscribe to, but there is just something grating about MMA pointing out our dysfunctions.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.