By Flint Wheeler
Were Jon Jones a boxer, he would compete at the heavyweight level. That would seem to be a pretty minor statement, except that for some reason, people feel the need to ask this man who cuts weight to make 205 if he would go to boxing and fight Floyd Mayweather “for like, the biggest payout.”
Listening to Jon Jones on ESPN Radio this morning, I was taken aback…
Host 1: Would you ever do anything crazy like get into boxing and fight Floyd Mayweather for like the biggest payout?
Jones: To be honest with you, if it was all hands, it would probably be a pretty competitive match. But that’s not fighting, either. You can’t be at the bar and be like, alright, no kicking, no taking me down, don’t stretch my shirt out. It’s not like that. What I do, I consider it to be the true art of fighting. To do everything. Fighting Floyd Mayweather wouldn’t even be right. Nobody would want to see that.
Host 2: Some boxers have tried to make that transition into MMA…
Jones: James Toney did it about two years ago. He lost in the first round. Do not mess with an MMA fighter. You don’t want to do that. It’s a bad look.
Floyd Mayweather fights at 147 pounds. He has gone up as high as 154 for a few fights in his career. To put that in context, flip it and think about asking a heavyweight in boxing (or even a cruiserweight) if he would fight Jose Aldo or Ben Henderson.
This was letter-for-letter the dumbest question I’ve heard a fighter asked in at least five years.
But Jones’ answer also spoke to this dopey thing that MMA fans still cling to. While the fires of MMA vs. Boxing have died down since the bad ol’ days, there’s still this “in a real fight” defense of one as superior.
And let’s all stop doing that.
The point of MMA is not to be a representation of a street fight or a bar fight. It’s a sport. While Jones was slyly pointing out things you can’t do in boxing that you can in a bar, he left out things like: having your eyes poked, having your balls grabbed and twisted, hair pulling, being punched in the back of the head, worrying about friends jumping in, the use of weapons..etc. I don’t remember watching a bar fight where an observer stood nearby repeatedly yelling “No poking of the eye, No groin shots, and let me check your gloves for suitability at your weightclass!”
Neither sport is “better,” nor is neither sport a representation of “true fighting.” Yes, MMA involves more aspects of “fighting” but unless you’re willing to accept that the next logical step of the argument is that the UFC had better rules in the first few “no-rules” shows because they were — and there’s no way to argue against this — more like a real fight, then you have to drop the “that’s not how fighting is on the streets” argument to denigrate the sport of boxing.
If I were to name my ten best fights in MMA and boxing of the last two years, I’m pretty sure that the list would be 100% boxing. Personally, there’s nothing in MMA that can hold a candle to something like the two Rios vs. Alvarado fights or Bradley vs. Provodnikov or Pacquiao vs. Marquez..etc.
Similarly, there’s no boxing event that holds a candle in top-to-bottom action like a show like this last UFC on Fox provided. Even a good undercard with legitimate and well-matched fights such as given on the Mayweather vs. Guerrero PPV comes anywhere close to what the UFC can provide for a “full night’s entertainment.”
But media have to stop feeding into this garbage. Sure, the guys who asked Jon Jones if he’d fight Floyd Mayweather despite a sixty pound weight advantage weren’t “MMA media” but it says something about the quality of questions asked by a large segment of MMA media that it’s entirely too easy to imagine that question coming at a UFC press conference or media call.
When someone like Jones feeds into the “this is real fighting, like in the streets” mentality, feel free to call it idiotic. Because it is. The goal of either sport is to not be a street fight.
When a fan does the “x is better than y, fact” thing, blow it off as idiotic. Because it is. Personal preference doesn’t make a sport “better.” I can’t stand watching soccer, I find it ungodly boring. But that hardly makes it “worse” than football, which I could watch until my eyes bleed. But don’t take that as meaning that you shouldn’t engage in a spirited debate about the merits of either sport. If you can help open eyes to the good of one of the two sports, that’s a good thing. But one sport’s success doesn’t have to be seen as entwined with the failure of the other.
And, for the love of god, if you’re in the media…don’t feed it by asking these unbelievable waste of time questions of “would you go to the other sport and fight their champion?” Be better than that. And if you can’t be better than that, find another job.