With a big fight coming up against Juan Manuel Marquez on September 19th, it would seem that boxing and training would be the only thing on Floyd Mayweather’s mind.
But that wasn’t the case when Mayweather recently used the spotlight generated by a press conference to take a few shots at the mixed martial arts.
Mayweather has been down this road before, and last time he apologized to the UFC and took back his comments about not respecting the talents of cage fighters. This time, however, it seems to be even more personal.
Mayweather said that placing fighters in a cage is something that should be reserved for animals, essentially said boxers have more skill and better cardio, dissed MMA fighters’ earning potential, and said that the sport is for “beer drinkers” while boxing is for “everybody.”
And that was just the tip of the iceberg as Mayweather went on to say that MMA was created by whites as a response to blacks and Hispanics taking over in boxing.
Any true MMA or UFC fan knows that Mayweather is way off in his commentary, but we’ll leave that for a bit later.
Let’s go ahead and talk about why Mayweather made the comments first. It’s easy to see that Mayweather is feeling threatened by the popularity of the UFC after the success and the hype generated by UFC 100, which dwarfs his upcoming fight. Fans want to see him take on Manny Pacquiao, and the Marquez fight seems pretty underwhelming in comparison to the potential of that fight, especially since Mayweather is a big -450 to +325 favorite at BetUS.
Mayweather also knows that UFC 103 will be held on the same day, and Mayweather is in reality most likely a closet UFC fan as well who knows that UFC 103, which now features a rematch between Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin, is not going to be a prototypical UFC card and will thus make for much easier competition. If the Mayweather fight outdraws UFC 103 as expected, Mayweather’s comments about boxing being more popular will be validated.
As for Mayweather’s perceived hatred of the UFC and MMA, don’t buy it.
Mayweather has even had discussions with Mark Cuban about a possible jump to MMA in the past and he knows that the fighters are plenty skilled, just in different areas in most cases than a traditional boxer. And that’s exactly why his “whites created MMA because they can’t box” theory doesn’t hold any weight.
Look at the most successful white MMA fighters of the past ten years or so: Randy Couture was a wrestler, so were Mark Coleman and Dan Henderson. Chuck Liddell has a wrestling background as well mixed in with karate, and Kenny Florian started out in Brazilian jiu-jitsu among many others.
It seems like more MMA fighters dreamed of becoming the next Daniel Larusso from Karate Kid or the next NCAA wrestling champion than the next Muhammad Ali.
Then there’s the sport of MMA itself, which began in South America with the famed vale tudo contests and continued to grow through the domination of the Gracie family of Brazil in the UFC that spurred many fighters to evolve their games.
And boxing does feature two white champions as the Klitschko brothers from Ukraine both have heavyweight titles to their names.
There is something to the appeal of white UFC fighters as fan favorites that Mayweather may have been implying, but that’s simply human nature and not a matter of whether or not those fighters were good enough to cut it in boxing.
Most of his other criticisms aren’t even worth addressing, but let’s not take them too seriously. Mayweather may have been way off, but it’s all part of the business of fight promoting and it seems to have worked. In the end, Mayweather should be commended for speaking his mind and making things interesting, which is more than we can say for many of the legions of politically correct athletes out there today.
September 19, 2009 is now shaping up to be a very interesting night in the realm of combat sports, that’s for sure.