Struby: Did you just use the term 'dopey?' You are an MMA fan! I'm making the point that lots of people have jumped on the bandwagon. MMA is hot. Buzzing. Part of the zeitgeist. Boxing, on the other hand, has seen better days. The organizations are a mess. The promoters are myopic. As a sport it's far from the mainstream. But it's like Evander Holyfield -- it's stuck around a LONG time. Why? Because of the product. Arturo Gatti's top 5 fights are better than the top MMA fights of all time. Simple.
Hockensmith: Do you own a dictionary? I'll read the dopey entry for you: "stupid; inane." I think your driver's license says that, too!
By the way, the UFC has been getting people to pay to watch its events since 1993. I guess when you're as old as Struby, 15 years is a fad.
One little anecdote to show how much better MMA world operates. When Tito Ortiz mauled Ken Shamrock and the PPV bout ended in a shaky stoppage, Dana White immediately announced a third fight between the two. And it was free. (OK, so the third fight was just as bad. At least we didn't have to pay to see it. We probably have to pay to watch Floyd Mayweather take a nap these days.)
Could "Rampage" Jackson dominate Bernard Hopkins in the ring?
Struby: Hey, the MMA guys have it right, putting together the best matches. Dana does a heck of a job. But tell me this: How much are those MMA guys getting paid? Not much. Certainly not enough -- the Fertittas are making money hand over fist at the expense of these guys. So guess what? The whole UFC will fall apart when fighters start holding out, start demanding more money. Then the MMA fiolks will get a taste of the boxing business. Free enterprise, young man. P.S. I am not that old.
Hockensmith: Note: Tim Struby might indeed not be that old. But his arguments are. Yawn. The fighters do not make enough money. Agreed. But the one-man leadership model is the only way to go. MMA -- and let's be sure to include the IFL in this discussion -- knows better and won't let that happen. The paychecks keep getting bigger, and so will the sport.
Struby: Time will tell. Maybe the UFC suits could get some advice from Vince McMahon. I mean, he produces a 'product' that gets pretty good numbers. More importantly, if you're looking for more evidence of quality bouts, look no further than this weekend -- Castillo-Hatton. Should be explosive … unless you're listening to the young editor who claims there are no such fights any longer.
Hockensmith: I hope you're right about Castillo-Hatton. I'm rooting for that "free" bout to be great, too. The difference between MMA and what Vince McMahon does is that McMahon has a script and the "bouts" are rigged. Ask boxing and MMA fans which bouts are more likely to be fixed, and I think you know what the answer will be.
Round 12 -- Final round!
Struby: The final round. The championship round. Had a good time intellectually pushing our young editor from one corner of the ring to another. So I will sum things up and add a little bonus: Hotter topic? MMA. Better promotion? MMA. Nicer guys? MMA. Better fights? Boxing. Simple.
Bonus: To further prove my allegations, I will invite three of our fine ESPN.com fans to join myself and the young editor for a night of fight viewing at my New York City apartment. Three MMA bouts and three fights. The young editor and I chose. Interested? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(if you live in the tri-state area) and let's get talking!
Hockensmith: This is the final round, so let's give Struby a round of applause for not tapping out. The guy has lost every round (minus, I admit, a few low blows, with more to come), and he's old and weak. If he owned a title belt (Tim's so old, he resorts to suspenders), it would be mine by now. Yet he fought valiantly. Thank you for giving me an easy stay-busy victory. Your great-grandkids are proud of their Pappy.
Better fights? Come on, Tim. Just not true that boxing has the better bouts.
I stopped taking Ambien for my sleep problems, and now just pop in the Jermain Taylor-Cory Spinks "championship" fight from a month ago. I'm out in half a round.
I'll take you up on that offer to watch fights at your house. It's the assisted-living place on Madison Avenue, right?
And there's the final bell
Who wins the belt? Vote now, SportsNation!
Tim Struby is a features writer for ESPN The Magazine. Ryan Hockensmith is an associate editor at ESPN The Magazine. Chances are good they will speak again.
Personally, I agree with Struby, boxing is better because its best far exceeds the best MMA has to offer. But, honestly, Hockensmith presented a better argument.
Discuss. Let's see how you feel.