–Kenny Rice

Which facet of combative sports is the best to use, the most effective? It’s the genesis of mixed martial arts and remains a perfect debating point.

But one debate is more worn out that a pair of penny loafers, and if you are remotely old enough to remember when they were in vogue you know how passe that is–boxing versus MMA. Why even ponder it any longer until a current, viable boxer or a current, viable MMA fighter truly decides to pursue the sport in a dedicated, respectful manner?

This week on Inside MMA, former WBC Light Middleweight Champ Sergio Mora squelched the nonsense. “I don’t want to fight MMA. One take down, it’s over. When I was a kid I loved movies like Bloodsport, but everyone has to be real about the differences in the sports. You want to make it a stand up fight, I’m in. Most MMA fighters wouldn’t go for that. And that is the smart way for each athlete in these sports, respect what the other guys do.”

K.J. Noons who fights Jorge Masvidal June 18th on HDNet as part of the Strikeforce card, echoes the thoughts from a place of real perspective. He has a dozen professional boxing victories to go along with his sparkling MMA career. But Koons understands he was not fighting at the top or even near the top of the boxing ladder.

“It’s called the “sweet science” for a reason. There is a very different skill set involved in boxing and those who are champions or have moved up to top contenders are to be respected. The training, strategy is very structured. You can never really compare the two sports,” Noons assesses. “In MMA you can get by with in close, dirty boxing, you can’t in regular boxing. But in MMA you have to respect the champions and top contenders as well for being so well rounded in many aspects of fighting.”

It is that lack of respect that created the controversy over the years. The James Toney talking the talk but far from walking the walk moment in training to make his MMA debut against Randy Couture, an embarrassing moment for boxing fans. But a glaring display of what Mora and Noons articulated, respect and understanding in the differences. It’s not about good or bad, who is better, it is about a different type of regimented approach.

10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu founder and grappling great Eddie Bravo noted there are those who still think a move to MMA is easy if they’ve had athletic success elsewhere. “Some of these guys are trying to resurrect careers. It’s about publicity, not about really caring how tough it is and how hard and how long the top MMA fighters have worked to get there, just like these boxers, baseball players, football players had to do to be great in their sports.”

Mora is definitive as to why this is the case. “It’s three things, money, arrogance and machismo. That simple.”

And that best explains why some have ventured blindly into MMA from boxing and other sports that they would never ever consider in preparing for their own sport.

Nick Diaz has used boxing as leverage in hopes of getting a UFC title shot  He has said he would take a break from MMA to go into the squared circle if there was a more lucrative choice in the sport of his choice. Noons lost to Diaz in his last fight, breaking a hand in the process that put him on the sideline. He offered this view of Diaz as a pro boxer.

“Nick is a tremendous athlete, and would do okay in the middle ranks of boxing. But he was talking about fighting Jeff Lacey and that is a whole different level to step up to, four ounce gloves to ten ounce gloves, that’s a big difference.”

Boxing and MMA is a big difference. To be at the top level requires a combination of talent and training. To even think about just popping in and out of a professional sport is insulting to the sport and its fans. And that is where the debate should end.


Catch a great bonus clip on this topic right after the show

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