What a glorious time we live in. The best pound-for-pound UFC fighter is challenging the WWE Universal Champion, while the greatest boxer of this era is coming out of retirement to face the biggest draw in UFC history. While the lines between major combat sports entities are constantly merging, the UFC may be exploring the idea of promoting boxing on a fulltime basis. According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the UFC promoting boxing is being seriously considered by WME-IMG.
From the perspective of a major conglomeration like WME-IMG, adding boxing to their portfolio would surely be a positive indicator. However, a Dana White led boxing promotion could be disastrous for both the UFC and the theoretical boxing promotion.
Here are five reasons that a UFC-run boxing promotion would be a mistake for all involved.
•The eyes are off the prize
Like him or not, Dana White is the most successful promoter in the brief history of MMA. From an outside perspective, White pours his heart and soul into promoting the UFC. Is it worth it to have that passion diverted? The UFC promotes a fight card nearly every weekend. Adding boxing promotion to the UFC’s calendar would further dillute of the central UFC product.
Dana White and the UFC have taken fair criticism regarding their inability to reach beyond their core demographics. Boxing reaches many of those demographics. If the UFC were to completely abandon their base, they run the risk of eroding the reliable audience that they have built over the past 15 years.
Ironically, if White and the UFC are no longer focused primarily on MMA, the sport could become as diluted as boxing.
There is a reason that the UFC’s biggest star must compete in a boxing ring to earn the largest payday of his career. Unfortunately, it is rare that a UFC fighter can gain enough financial autonomy to gain power over management. UFC fighters are paid relatively low compared to their boxing counterparts. While boxers are rarely treated fairly by their promoters, they do have a much higher earning celling than UFC fighters.
If the UFC’s foray into boxing mirrors their MMA business model, their talent pool would be limited. Currently, it is understood that the best MMA fighters reside within the UFC. A UFC boxing promotion would likely feature low profile boxers.
•Too much Dana White
Conor McGregor might be the UFC’s biggest star, but Dana White is the face of the organization. White has a unique position among major sports executives. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is largely loathed, NBA commission Adam Silver is a fan-favorite, but neither of these men are as polarizing as White.
A large contingent of MMA fans appreciate White’s honesty, while many in the MMA media are critical but tolerant of White’s public outbursts. Those within the MMA bubble know what White brings to the table. But what happens when White interacts with a new public apparatus?
White’s style is not for everyone. If he approaches boxing with the same overbearing nature that he promotes MMA with, the boxing audience may sour on him.
MMATorch readers are aware of the distinctions between boxing and MMA. The general public may not be as astute. To their credit, the UFC has done a decent job of differentiating their brand from other combat sports. A further blending of the lines between MMA and boxing could devalue the appeal of the UFC.
Surely, Dana White and WME-IMG would do everything to promote boxing with vigor. While this is admiral, it could lessen the importance of purchasing a UFC event. By its very nature promoting is hyperbolic. It would be foolish for WME-IMG to undermine either sport in order to prop up another.
Unless the UFC significantly scales back its event schedule, their boxing and MMA events would inevitably compete.
•The UFC has conditioned fans to be wary of boxing
The UFC has spent nearly two decades convincing their fans, that boxing is an inferior product. To be fair, many of these criticisms are valid. The UFC has consistently presented quality undercards, relevant main events, and suitable scorecards. They have expertly presented themselves as the alternative that boxing fans have always wanted.
A boxing organization with UFC influence could remedy some of boxings ills. Or the UFC powerbrokers could come across as hypocrites. MMA fancies itself as the highest level of fighting.
If they were to promote boxing, traditional UFC fans might feel like they have been sold a lie over the years.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: MEDIA & BUSINESS: The Pros and Cons of Jon Jones being the Face of the UFC