One of the current battles in the world of combat sports is MMA vs. boxing. Each side says its sport is better, and then a third group that maintains that there is room in the sporting zeitgeist for both to flourish. Cagewriter, and Yahoo! Sports columnist Kevin Iole belong to this third group, as does HBO boxing commentator Jim Lampley.
In a recent interview with Toro Magazine, Lampley maintains that boxing and MMA are both here to stay:
I believe there’s room for both, and that both are going to continue to exist and both are going to produce stars. And you know, I used to think of this in terms of “I like boxing because it’s better.” But now I think of it in terms of “I like boxing because it’s boxing” – and some people like MMA because it’s MMA. It’s no better and no worse, it is what it is. And I think there’s room in the cultural marketplace for both.
Earlier in the interview, Lampley mentions that many people confuse success of MMA with the success of the UFC. He thinks that the demise of other MMA organizations points to problems within the sport. The UFC is a marketing juggernaut but since they control the product, it's less legitimate. He is particularly aghast that the UFC hires its own commentators:
UFC hires their own announcers – they don’t deal with a Larry Merchant and a Jim Lampley picking them apart from a perspective of legitimate honesty and saying whatever they want to say. We’re talking about an organization where the promoter has hired the commentators. Now that’s an entirely different kind of broadcast than what we do or what anybody in boxing does. That’s really a lot more like pro wrestling. Because then they tell the story that they want to tell.
Lampley, in this instance, is placing a little bit too much emphasis on the role of the commentators, which is understandable, since that's his job. Yes, Rogan and Goldberg can be UFC shills, but that doesn't mean that fight fans don't call them out on that role, and that we don't see through the shilling.
But the important thing to note is that Lampley, one of boxing's most respected voices, sees a place in the world for both boxing and MMA. There is no need to posture about which sport is better, when they're both an important part of the sporting landscape.
Chat with Cagewriter about MMA vs. boxing, Lampley vs. Goldberg and tastes great vs. less filling during a chat at 1 p.m. ET on Friday.