As Conor McGregor steps off the martial arts mats and out of the octagon, he’s entering new territory. Some are saying it won’t even be a contest. It’s not the first time a boxer and an MMA fighter have gone toe-to-toe, but interestingly, it’s been the boxer who leaves the ropes and enters the cage. This time, it’s McGregor who will be in unfamiliar territory. Will the new landscape and rules be enough to hand another victory to undefeated Floyd Mayweather?
Martial arts and boxing are two very different sports and a contest between them, while perhaps entertaining, does nothing to make the two more alike or to compare the abilities of the competitors. It’s akin to having a 400m individual medley swimmer pair off against a water polo player just because they both compete in water. No matter which of the two sports is chosen for competition, the one in the most familiar territory will be the victor.
What does the upcoming contest do for adults and children who participate in martial arts, whether as competition or just as a workout? Ultimately, nothing. If you’re a young, aspiring student of the martial arts, you watch televised competitions as any fan would: cheer for your guy, complain about an unfair judgment, and maybe pick up a few tips. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to be the case this weekend. Martial artists will be disappointed to watch their sport, their art, perhaps even their spiritual discipline, reduced to a ridiculous contest that should never have been fought.
It will likely be a disappointing weekend for martial artists around the world; watching your passion reduced to spectacle (a spectacle making millions of dollars for a few people). Perhaps the one positive take-away will be that the hype will finally be over and you can get back to focusing on the true art of your practice without all the jabs at the office water cooler about how “your” guy will be pulp inside a minute. It’s a good thing that patience and self-control are fundamental to the practice of martial arts.