Saturday, September 19, 2009

UFC 103 vs. Mayweather-Marquez: Discussing the PPV Grudge Match in Relation to the Mainstream Media

"If early mainstream media coverage is an accurate indicator, Mayweather-Marquez will crush UFC 103 tomorrow night in PPV buys. Then again, mainstream media have shown lukewarm interest in UFC despite its constant growth and popularity."

The above comment is taken from the status of New Jersey Star-Ledger Boxing and MMA writer Franklin McNeil's Facebook profile. Yes, we're friends.

While the thought reminds me of why I am a fan of Franklin McNeil in the first place, it also brings up the constant debate between boxing and mixed martial arts and the coverage they receive in the mainstream media.

Settle in, this one is going to take a while.

Both portions of McNeil's status update are true; the Mayweather-Marquez fight has been earning 10-8 rounds against UFC 103 for the entire week, if not longer.

Though the UFC delivered their usual strong Countdown show on Spike, the M&M show has garner 24/7 coverage, both literally and figuratively from ESPN and most other major media outlets.

While the UFC can't get a sniff of main page attention from the websites of the two sports superpowers, Mayweather versus Marquez is batting leadoff and sixth on ESPN, in addition to holding down the three hole on Sports Illustrated.

Adding up all the attention the sweet science is receiving certainly gives the impression that the championship card of boxing will score an impressive TKO over the UFC tomorrow night.

But is that impression legitimate?

This is where the second part of McNeil's doubly-truthful observation comes into play.

Saying the mainstream media has shown lukewarm interest in the UFC is like saying Angelina Jolie is decent looking; both are gross understatements.

Outside of UFC 100 and Brock Lesnar's post-fight shenanigans, the mainstream media has only shown an interest in MMA when the story is just too huge to ignore.

Affliction's demise got a little bit of ink, while the Fedor Sweepstakes and the Gina Carano - Cris Cyborg fight both scored reasonably well, but other than that, the coverage has been minimal outside of the pages and columns dedicated to the sport.

And let's be honest with each other: we all know why the Gina Carano fight got as much attention as it did...

I just call them like I see them.

Back to the matter at hand, predicting who will come out ahead in the pay-per-view grudge match taking place tonight based on mainstream media attention is drawing conclusions from a compromised collection of data.

Although Mixed Martial Arts is growing at a rapid pace both globally and domestically, many mainstream media outlets refuse to give it the same coverage they offer boxing.

Despite the fact that boxing fans have to wait four to six months for a worthwhile pay-per-view event, in comparison to monthly cards courtesy of the UFC, MMA continues to be treated like the redheaded stepchild of the sports world by the media.

Even though Mayweather has been out of the ring for over two years, the returning former pound-for-pound king is garnering the sport coverage equivalent of being Jon Gosselin, while Rich Franklin and the rest of the UFC 103 fighters can't even make it on TMZ, yet alone Showbiz Tonight or Access Hollywood.

Everyone knows what Mayweather had to eat for dinner last night, while Franklin and company have to hunt down the paparazzi themselves if they want to have their pictures taken.

Drawing realistic conclusions is awfully hard when the information being presented is biased.

Though the mainstream media may be showering the Mayweather-Marquez bout with attention, my guess would be that the roles are reversed when you look at which event bars and other such establishments are choosing to air tomorrow night.

While I can name you several sports bars and watering holes that are showing the UFC within a 100 mile radius of the tiny town I currently call home, I can't tell you one such establishment that will have Mayweather versus Marquez on their marquee tomorrow night.

The same trend holds true for each of the three cities I've settled in over the last two years. In fact, the last big boxing event that I can recall garnering serious pay-per-view attention with the barstool set was the Lennox Lewis - Mike Tyson tilt and that took place in 2002.

That's not to say that boxing doesn't still have a loyal and dedicated fan base that will open their wallets for championship events, but the truth of the matter is the MMA has replaced boxing as the combat sport of choice for bar owners, as well as the 18-35 demographic.

Keeping that demographic in mind, it's easy to see why the mainstream media is down on MMA and big on boxing; there aren't a whole lot of members of said demographic with any kind of sway in the mainstream media right about now is there?

In their way is "The Old Guard," an assembly of elder statesmen raised on the glory days of boxing, when legends took to the ring on a regular basis and martial arts was reserved for kung-fu films and the occasional class at the YMCA.

Does anyone really expect the same people who routinely cling to archaic ideas about MMA that have been repeatedly refuted to suddenly switch gears and start covering the sport?

The answer is no, and it will remain that way until people who are passionate about the sport are afforded the opportunity to provide it with the coverage it deserves.

While MMA is making small strides, like having two of the three panelists on Friday's episode of Around the Horn pick UFC 103 to come out victorious in this weekend's PPV Grudge Match, winning a small battle on a single segment of Horn is hardly a cause for celebration.

Perhaps the frequent fight schedule will always mean that only the biggest events of the year will receive wall-to-wall coverage a la UFC 100, while the infrequent nature of top tier boxing events makes the massive mainstream attention more understandable.

That being said, trying to determine which of these two pay-per-view programs is going to come out ahead by the amount of coverage afforded to each is about as useful as asking a bunch of Toronto-area residents who will win the Stanley Cup this year.

A majority will say the Maple Leafs, despite having last sipped from Lord Stanley's mug more than forty years ago.

Just because the mainstream media is backing boxing, doesn't mean Mayweather and Marquez are going to come out on top tonight.

It just mean that they, like Toronto Maple Leafs fans, refuse to accept anything different.


  1. biased red neck MMA article...stop hating on boxing. Boxing wins....Here have your very first comment on this biased unprofessional dumb article website!!1

  2. I don't hate boxing; there are a lot of good fighters out there and this is certainly a strong card tonight...

    That being said, the reluctance of the mainstream media to cover a sport that offers an solid event every month and incorporates elements of boxing and other styles is ridiculous to me.

    How that makes this a redneck MMA article is beyond me though.

  3. maybe he is a member of the "old guard" haha. Anyway, good article. I do agree with you on mainstream media giving that much attention to boxing due to having 3 or 4 big fights a year.

    It also brings into question that maybe that's the reason why the mainstream media refuses to cover it, as they see the events like they see wrestling PPVs. I hope I'm wrong though.

    On a side note, I love both boxing and mma, I didn't care much for the boxing ppv this time as it didn't have the card we all wanted to see, which was mayweather pacquiao. while some may say the UFC card was a bit lacking, in the end their main events delivered, while the one in boxing was rather predictable.

    Freddie roach was right, two counter punchers in a 12 round fight? Boring!

  4. Boxing has become a joke.. Why did mayweather not fight Manny,the fight boxing fans wanted... stupid money grabbing industry.. UFC is the future..

  5. Excellent insight into the motives and biases surrounding combat sports today. When you have boxings old guard calling UFC "a bunch of skinheads" it just shows the ignorance that is out there. Real sports fans acknowledge the legitimacy of MMA, and the UFC is well on it's way to being a dominant franchise like NASCAR or the NFL. They have enough world class talent to put on regularly scheduled competitive cards and their demographic will prove to be more profitable as well. Boxing's demographic is more the Buick crowd, and they struggle to put on more than a couple decent cards a year. Eventually the networks will realize the potential and they will want their peace. The crooks running boxing had a good run, but it's death is drawing near. Boxing fans will eventually realize that pugilistic mastery does not make you the toughest or best fighter. A great boxer is a third at best of what a top level MMA fighter is. In a real fight, the guy will try to choke you out, break your arm or knock you out.... in REAL fighting fighters do more than just punch. Boxing fans may stubbornly cling to their sport, but the new fight fans are calling the UFC and MMA their sport. Wouldn't it have been awesome if Mayweather followed that lightning left hook with a devastating right head kick???

  6. Love all the input folks...

    I don't have anything against boxing, but at the end of the day, UFC 103 was far and away more exciting than watching Mayweather stick and move for 12 rounds.

    While he certainly deserved some attention heading into that fight, everyone knew what was going to happen and things went exactly as expected. I don't get what is so entertaining about that...

    At least the UFC offers up some upsets and excitement and this particular card had both in spades, on both portions of the card.

  7. PLullllleaze "A great boxer is a third at best of what a top level MMA fighter is" ...Wow what a dumb ass. Boxing will never die EVER.The second MMA starts to have more black and latino fighters you will see a serious decrease in support. White people want boxing to die cause its dominated by non white fighters period.

  8. The best fighter in the ufc isnt white? Most of the white guys are just punching bags. That was a dumb comment who is better then Sliva?

  9. So if the articla favored boxing then it wouldn't be bias huh? You're stupid and racist. MMA IS taking over cause it's not limited to just punching... it's way better.

  10. To the first guy who called this article a biased red neck mma article, did you actually read it? If you did read it you just hav'nt the intelligence to get what the writer was trying to say. I thought it was a very insightful piece on the subject. I am a mma fan and a boxing fan but i too believe boxing has been destroyed by too many orgs, weight classes and guys being fed cans to build up their records. At the minute it's very predictable but I would love to see a return to the days when Haggler, Hearns, Sugar Ray and Duran were going at it. Now MMA is where the excitement is.

  11. As far as race relations are concerned, let's have a fight-to-the-death style match up between Mayweather and Fedor Emalienenko.

    That outcome can't even be argued.


  12. I fail to understand why so many people want to bring race into this discussion, because, as some have already pointed out here, MMA is far from a sport dominated by white guys.

    Anyone looking to play the race card obviously hasn't ever looked at Mixed Martial Arts; there are superstars of all races, creeds, colors and genders and fans aren't cheering for the guys that look most like them...

    They're cheering for the incredible athletes the sport has produced, regardless of race.

  13. Mayweather has been ruining boxing for the last few years. He makes an exciting sport boring. His attitude after he wins is such a bad attempt for being superficially humble, it makes me wonder why I waste my time and money. I wish he would go away. I wish Pac-Man would teach him a lesson, but unfortunately Mayweather is just going to land his jabs and run away for 12 rounds. F' this sport.

  14. I really don't get what race has to do with anything.
    Most of the top fighters aren't white or american.
    Brazilians dominate the sport. Silva (black) and Machida (asian/brazilian) are both non-white Brazilian champions who are considered the best fighters in the world. I hate when people think that MMA is a white sport.
    UFC was invented by a Brazilian Jui Jitsu Black Belt. The Gracie family created modern MMA and people think that its an american white trash sport. Boxing has its place but to even compare the level of competition is a joke. In a boxing match the boxers win. In MMA boxers stand no chance. Why glorify a sport that is so narrow and limited when better athletes with more skill get no attention.

  15. lmao! boxing death is drawing near!!!!!!!!! boxing is back in a big way THANK YOU DANA WHITE FOR ALL UR SHIT TALKING , MAYWEATHER MARQUEZ CRUSHHHHHHHHHHHHED UFC 103 1 million buys to what 450,000? hahha just wait til may and pac fight that ppv does 3 mill buys and breaks the all time record but 1st pac has to get past cotto is a great fight- difference between ufc and boxing is ufc is a PAY PER VIEW SPORT! have fun shelling out 50 bucks every single month while i watch great fights left and right on hbo, showtime and espn for free, i dont mind spending 50 bucks 3 times a year for the block buster boxing ppvs, mma is a pay per view sport w left over going to spike

  16. they may have gotten more ppv buys, but you have to take into account that the ufc did not have a title fight this ppv. i think if they had a title fight the ppv results would be alot closer if not in favor of the ufc. also i don't know what your watching but mma is all over tv i have seen many diferent mma promotions brodcast on tv thats where you see all the up and coming fighters.

  17. The problem with MMA is that there are simply too many fights and way too often. On top of that, most of the fights are so one sided it's not even funny. Take 103 for instance, every single fight sucked. If you could not strike you lost. Boxing is what it is because when they have PPV fights it's typically a fight people have been waiting to see for a long time. For me MMA is fun to watch but it is more for the current generation who have an attention span of a fly. Boxing is an art. MMA is a street fight on TV. Once they start hugging on the ground they lose my attention. Keep it like the old PKA of old without the submission part and I would love it more.

  18. Sorry to dissapoint MMA fans but boxing is more popular (Over 1 millions pay per views; to what half a mil), but anyone that race into an MMA talk is stupid. Where I live now many Hispanic like watching, and that is very surprising to me.


Tell us what you think - good, bad or indifferent - and get ready for a counterpunch.