By Shawn Krest
July 4, 2011 09:57 am EDT
The most anticipated heavyweight boxing match in recent memory ended Saturday night just as an average UFC card was starting. Anyone who watched both knows that boxing's best was no match for standard-issue UFC action. The numbers, however, tell a different story. Why?
The comparison was inevitable.
At 6:15 Eastern time Saturday night, a major boxing card ended.
Wladimir Klitschko fought David Haye in one of the most anticipated heavyweight fights in recent memory. Both men brought in titles and gallons of bad blood. Both vowed to take out their anger on their opponent and both promised a knockout.
The fight took place in an environment where legends are made: More than 50,000 fans packed a soccer stadium in Germany in a driving rain. The fight aired live on HBO, then the network reaired it during American prime time.
At exactly the same time, just another UFC card started.
There was nothing wrong with the card, but it wasn’t considered one of the must-see events by most MMA fans. The main event featured a title fight rematch between two men with gallons of bad blood of their own in Dominick Cruz and
However, the original co-feature--a rematch between
BJ Pennand Jon Fitch--was scratched due to double injury. It also capped a month and a half stretch that featured a Zuffa-promoted event every week.
Over the six week period, there were three UFC pay-per-views, the live finale of The Ultimate Fighter, a UFC Live event, a Strikeforce card, and a Strikeforce Challengers. That’s an average of one card every five days since May 28.
Despite the saturation of mixed martial arts events and an injury-depleted card, boxing’s best proved no match for the UFC.
Despite years of claims to the contrary, Haye was not up to the challenge of fighting a Klitschko. He claimed (just as the UFC’s first preliminary fight was nearing it’s end on a live Facebook stream) that the reason for his cautious performance was a sore toe, but for most of the fight, it appeared to be a case of stage fright.
Klitschko didn’t throw many power shots or make a concerted effort to end the fight early. Haye didn’t throw much of anything or make a concerted effort to win.
Too timid to let his hands go, Haye attempted just 310 punches over 12 rounds, landing only 130. The average heavyweight manages to land 208 out of 552.
However, in the evenly matched action fight that topped UFC 132, Dominick Cruz, who was the more active fighter, landed 97 strikes (punches and kicks) out of the 246 he threw.
In other words, the more active UFC fighter threw 64 fewer shots than the boxer who “did nothing.”
Now, granted, the boxing match went 11 minutes longer. When you look at them on even footing, Cruz threw nearly 10 shots a minute, landing 3.9 of them. Haye threw about 8 and a half, landing 3.6.
And when you throw in each fighter’s respective opponent, things get downright confusing.
Faber focused on power rather than activity in the UFC main event. He landed just 58 of 181 strikes, or 2.3 out of 7 per minute. Klitschko landed 5.5 per minute out of 17.5 thrown.
So the boxing fans who were ready to do yard work instead of watching the end of that dog of a fight saw nine punches landed and 21 thrown every minute of the fight. The UFC fans who were demanding a rematch at the end of Cruz-Faber saw six strikes land and 17 thrown every minute.
Why don’t the numbers back up what we all thought we saw? The UFC fight also featured takedowns both successful and stuffed and grappling and scrambling for position.
Also, the problem with the boxing match wasn’t the lack of punching but the large discrepancy between the outputs of the two fighters and the lack of a killer instinct by either man.
Faber out punched Cruz in power shots by a 45-38 margin. With 11 extra minutes to work, Haye landed 36 power shots, while Klitschko landed 29.
That means the UFC fight nearly doubled the boxing match in power shots per minutes.
Finally, the UFC undercard featured five first-round knockouts, a bloodbath between
Matt Wimanand Dennis Siverthat ended in a controversial decision, and four prelim bouts on Facebook that went to decision and were considered letdowns.
Even on the disappointing Facebook bouts, there were one-minute stretches that featured more action and drama than Klitschko Haye, including Anthony Njokuani’s beat down of Andre Winner at the end of the first round and
Brian Bowlesattempt for a rear naked choke of Takeya Mizugaki in the second round.
Boxing had the chance to put on a show for fight fans ready to get an early start on their evening. Instead, they laid an egg. The punch stat numbers may not back that up, but they prove what the back-to-back events made clear to anyone that watched:
Punching ain’t everything.
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