God knows if there is anyone who thinks there is no need for some sort of pointless "MMA vs. boxing" rivalry, it's me. I love both sports deeply for their various charms, but it is interesting to me to hear the thoughts of fighters from both sports on the other. Even if it's only out of a strange sense of curiosity.
So when our friends at FightHub caught up with Zab Judah and asked for his thoughts on MMA, I checked out the video:
"MMA? I mean hey, it is what it is. It's..some people like to see. You know? I think the difference between MMA and boxing is anybody can be a MMA fighter it just takes...uh...you know, just brutality. You know what I'm sayin'? It's not a skill level thing. For me to get in and get your arm in a lock and try to pop it off, you know, as fast as I could? Anybody could do that. But when it comes to boxing, boxing is a skill, you know what I'm saying? It's an acquired entree. It's not for everybody."
The point of this isn't "let's all get angry at Zab for what he said." Obviously he's speaking from a place of ignorance when it comes to MMA. The proper application of an armbar, kimura or any other arm lock is more than "grab arm and twist" we all know that. Hell, Zab probably knows that himself.
I find the "acquired entree" thing to be the interesting part because it's something that I hear from MMA and boxing fans/participants alike when defending their sport.
Both sports are very easy to understand and appreciate when you're watching James Kirkland vs. Alfredo Angulo, Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti, Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson or Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin. Those are bouts which are, at their very core, what people expect a fight to look like.
But watching an MMA fight which is a struggle for takedowns and positional control against submission attacks is something that does take a certain level of understanding and willingness to appreciate. To many people struggles against the cage or ground battles will never be appealing and they'll never understand what is going on because they simply don't care to.
Similarly, many people watch a boxing match between two fighters with different styles and see clinching and hate that the guys keep "hugging" and the ref has to separate them. Boxing fans understand that in many cases it's a matter of dictating the space and distance at which the fight takes place or to break up the rhythm of the other fighter. There are a myriad of reasons why a clinch takes place or any other number of more subtle things in boxing. But many people won't care either way because they, again, simply don't care to.
Both sports are acquired tastes and I don't think either is free from misunderstanding or falls gracefully into "everyone wants to see a fight" given that the definition of fight for most people falls well outside of anything a strategic fighter engages in.
Of course, anyone can appreciate this: