Originally Posted by McGrain
I'll have a punt.
It's geeky as ****, but in boxing I deal with these points in the fight I call "inflection points." I don't write about it or even post about it because nobody wants to hear about that ****, but in a nutshell I mean points in the fight where very subtle changes which are hard to detect cause much larger shifts in the momentum of the fight. The ability to spot them represent sthe difference between a good boxing ****yst (not to mention trailer) and an average one.
As an example...a circling fighter with a moving style is circling to his own right 30% of the time for the first four rounds. His opponent has the kind of jab which is brilliant when he can get it working but can see him out-jabbed by the best jabbers he faces because of certain mental or physical limitations (think Oscar). Our man - doing the circling - is a speedster and was rellying upon that to keep him from the jab, but actually Oscar is landing it a fair bit. After four, his corner advices him to start circling to his right less, say 15% of the time. Now Oscar's jab is landing less and our speedster is making the angles on his own jab. That's an inflection point. Go deeper. The speedster decides that he's not going to circle to his right at all any more because he's having so much success. That's an inflection point because he's showing less variance and Oscar times him over the top with a right that dumps him in a round he was winning at a canter that he's now lost 10-8.
What evaporates an inflection point is "the puncher's chance." A good boxer controls a slugger with a series of well judged inflection points then gets wiped out for KO8. Inflection points are what make boxing deep - what makes it "chess."
In MMA there are many more "puncher's chances". Kicks. Knees. Punches. Take downs. Referee splitting. Submission. Locked guard. Etc. etc. After a take down new types of inflection points can develop BUT they are not reprasentative of an overall pattern because the two begin the following round in a different arena - on their feet.
In this sense, I think boxing can be regarded as literally deeper in terms of complexity (think chaos theory) if not in terms of technique. I believe this is also what MMA fans mean when they describe it as "more exciting". Less subtlty on offence, fewer terminals for evolution of the fight mean it is more likley to end suddenly and very violently.
Although on the flip-side, inflection points can open up the chances to land destructive punches.
However, you are describing the very top level of skill in boxing. And at the equivalent level of skill in MMA, similar struggles and tactical considerations open up. I mean, if your primary skillset is a wrestler and you go for three takedowns against Cigano and he stuffs all of them, what next? What's your plan? You gonna go toe-to-toe and hope to lay him out with one strike? You gonna try the same thing again and again while he stuffs each takedown attempt easier than the last and punches the **** out of you while you fail to impose your gameplan on him?
Boxing at its highest level is art created in human movement. But then, at the highest level, that is true for virtually any sport.
And a LOT of boxing matches are sloppy, predictable, boring affairs. For every wrestler grinding out a decision with top control, there's a boxer keeping an outmatched, discouraged opponent on the end of a lazy jab and running the clock down.
It's pros and cons with MMA's small gloves and hard strikes from kicks and knees. Yeah it's an equalizer and a tiny mistake can cost a guy the fight. It can encourage a safety-first mindset for that reason. But it also allows for more shifts in momentum.
You are right in saying that there is great subtlety in boxing at the highest level.
But in the direct chess versus checkers comparison?
Checkers has only one type of piece. Boxing has only one type of attack.
Checkers pieces have very limited movements. Boxers have a very limited strike zone.
Chess pieces have a wide variety of movement options. MMA has a wide variety of combat disciplines.
In that comparison, boxing is checkers. MMA is chess.