UFC's White defends MMA, fires back at boxing promoter

Todd duBoef, the president of the powerful boxing promotional company Top Rank, clearly does not understand mixed martial arts very well, as his recent comments in a Los Angeles Times article would indicate.

During a media day workout for Manny Pacquiao on Monday, duBoef questioned the safety of MMA based upon the finish of the Brock Lesnar-Randy Couture heavyweight title fight on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Lesnar knocked Couture down with a right to the back of the ear and then finished him with a series of blows on the ground.

That caused duBoef to question the widely held belief that MMA is a safer sport than boxing in an interview with the Times' Lance Pugmire.

"When I see stuff like that, it looks like nothing more than a Toughman contest," duBoef told Pugmire. "There's no way it's safer than boxing."

Au contraire, Mr. President.

The UFC was founded in 1993 and began the modern era of MMA. Since that time, there have been two deaths in MMA competition. Douglas Dedge died on March 18, 1998, from injuries sustained in a fight on an unregulated card in Kiev, Ukraine, two days earlier. And in 2007, Sam Vasquez died on Nov. 30, 2007, from injuries sustained in an Oct. 20 fight in Houston.

The Journal of Combative Sport has documented 71 deaths since 1993 in boxing, including several from shows that Top Rank promoted.

DuBoef's comments did not escape the notice of UFC president Dana White, who ripped him upon reading the Times story.

"What Todd duBoef said the other day in the L.A. Times, this is the same Todd duBoef who got the free tickets from me to be at that event that night," White said. "He said that the Randy Couture stoppage proves that boxing is much safer than MMA. [Top Rank chairman] Bob Arum is 95 years old and senile, when he says crazy [expletive] you know, it goes over your head because you expect it from him. Bob has been saying crazy [expletive] since Day 1. But Todd duBoef? What does Todd duBoef know about MMA?

"I have a study from Johns Hopkins that proves that MMA is safer than boxing. Todd duBoef ought to stick to what it is he knows, but I don't know what that is. He's Bob Arum's stepson and that's how he got that job at Top Rank. This is insane. Bob Arum's stepson commenting on MMA safety? He doesn't know what he is talking about. I don't know what he knows, but whatever it is, he ought to stick to that."

The Johns Hopkins' study White referenced was published in the July 2006 edition of the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.

In it, it makes several references to the fact that MMA is a safer sport with fewer traumatic brain injuries than in boxing.

"With MMA competitions, the opportunity to attack the extremities with arm bars and leg locks and the possibility of extended periods of grappling could serve to lessen the risk of traumatic brain injury," the article noted.

In its conclusions, it noted that "Knockout rates are lower in MMA competitions than in boxing. This suggests a reduced risk of TBI (traumatic brain injury) in MMA competitions when compared to other events involving striking."

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