Roy Jones Jr. is the newest Johnny-come-lately to grace the world of MMA with his presence. This eight-time world boxing champion and his Square Ring Promotions will put on “March Badness,” a mixed Boxing/MMA card on March 21, 2009 at the Pensacola Civic Center in Florida. A light heavyweight boxing match between Jones (52-5) and Omar Sheika (27-7) will be the main event, Jones said at a news conference Wednesday at the venue, where the show will be broadcast live on pay-per-view.
The “March Badness” undercard will feature three MMA bouts: Seth Petruzelli (10-4-0) vs. former WEC light heavyweight champion Doug Marshall (9-3-0) in a light heavyweight fight, Roy Nelson (13-3-0) vs. Jeff Monson (27-8-0) in a heavyweight bout and former collegiate/WWE wrestler Bobby Lashley against a yet to benamed opponent. Petruzelli’s fight will be his first since his spectacular 14-second TKO of Kevin Ferguson, aka Kimbo Slice, at Elite XC “Heat” last Oct. 4.
So what brings Jones to MMA? The same thing that’s brought Oscar De La Hoya, Donald Trump, Black Entertainment Television (BET), and the countless others who have tried and failed…MONEY.
Any businessperson with a pulse sees this burgeoning industry as a golden opportunity to CA$H in. They have delusions of how easy it is to reach the MMA fan and capitalize on his appetite for blood and guts. What they fail to realize is that the MMA fan is among the most educated and knowledgeable of sports fans, because Mixed Martial Arts is a thinking man’s sport, unlike its Boxing counterpart. Most of us have a low tolerance for bad fights, poor commentating, and a lackluster show; not to mention the corrupt, money-grubbing suits that are trying to exploit us.
While it seems as though the UFC has a monopoly on the sport of MMA, that’s not exactly the case. Yes, they are the two thousand pound gorilla, but there’s definitely room, and a strong need for some supporting chimps. With the departure of Japan’s longest running and most successful MMA organization, PRIDE Fighting Championship, and the recent failure of EliteXC, MMA needs more credible shows, where up and coming fighters can “cut their teeth”. As we’ve seen with recent MMA upstart Affliction, if a start-up has enough money to lure away good fighters from the larger more well established organizations, and enough business savvy to put together a good show, they have a shot. Whether or not Affliction has what it takes to stick around, is yet to be seen, but they’ve definitely done better than most.
So should we hardcore MMA fans boycott these newbie’s on the basis of their ill motivation? I think not, but at the same time, let’s use some discretion and only pay our hard earned money to those organizations that deserve it. Those that are truly in it to better the competition, better the sport, and better the experience for us, the fans.