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Don King thinks the UFC is in decline

I know what the comments are going to say, “Who the hell cares what Don King says?”

While I don’t put much stock in a 73-year old boxing promoter who is a convicted criminal that has been sued by a lot of his fighters and is promoting a match between Roy Jones Jr. and Felix Trinidad that is five years too late, it still irks me when he says crap like this:

”I love the UFC,” King said. ”Dana White and the Fertitta brothers [Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and White own the UFC] have done a marvelous job, but their decline lately has been precipitous.

”If they don’t find a new way to stimulate interest, boxing will be all alone on top again.”

Those comments appear in today’s online edition of the Chicago Sun-Times and were preceded by a quote in which King attempted to denegrade Saturday’s UFC 80 card in New Castle:

”They have a mediocre fight in London that will be shown on a delayed basis,” he said. ”I have no problem with that.”

I can’t say that I blame King for not being worried about UFC 80. I think the so-called “crossover” audience between boxing and MMA has been exaggerated by many and there will be a lot of casual MMA fans who won’t be watching UFC 80 tomorrow afternoon during the live broadcast at 3 p.m. ET or the tape delayed showing at night. However, I’m not so sure those casual fans will be paying to see Trinidad vs. Jones, either.

That being said, King is talking out of his butt when he claims the UFC is experiencing a “precipitous” decline. If the UFC really is in decline, then boxing should be so lucky to have a decline like the one the UFC experiencing.

While I disagree with those who claim boxing is dead, it’s popularity in the United States has decreased. Boxing’s popularity is as strong as ever when it comes to certain demographics but for the most part its fanbase is aging and the sport itself is not doing a good job of luring the next generation of fans.

The reality is that King knows better. He likely said what he said to get a reaction and get some publicity for tomorrow’s card in New York, which from what I hear is not selling well. Well, if this column is any indication, King’s transparent strategy has worked to some degree.

Back in the day when I was a big boxing fan, Jones and Trinidad were two of my favorite fighters. Truth be told, I’m still interested in tomorrow’s fight between the two even though they are both past their peak. That being said, I’ll be damned if I am going to pony up $50 for it. It’s a fight that belongs on HBO or Showtime, not PPV.

UFC vice president of regulatory affairs, Marc Ratner, who is no stranger to King from his days with the Nevada State Athletic Commission pretty much feels the same way I do:

”Five or six years ago, Tito vs. Roy was a fight I couldn’t wait for. I’m interested to see which guy has the most left. I’ll watch it on video when I get home [from Great Britain].”

And while I am underwhelmed by UFC 80’s undercard, it still has a lot more to offer than the undercard for Trinidad vs. Jones, with Andrew “Groin Shot” Golotta the featured attraction.

Only in America? No thanks, I’ll take the fight card Penn vs. Stevenson in the UK over boxing any day of the week.

  • Derek B. says:

    Boxing is still on the decline though.

    The last 5 boxing matches I’ve watched all have been disapointing…all matches ending in decisions.

    I use to be a huge Boxing until I was introduced to MMA. I just can’t see why you would rather watch boxing than MMA.

  • Gabber says:

    Hey Sam,

    Do you find it hard to give objective opinions with regards to Boxing vs. MMA on your CBS Sportsline colum? The only reason I ask is because that is how I originally found you was the boxing tab, now while you’re still a boxing fan, would you classify yourself as more of a casual Boxing fan?

    I personally keep up to date on all the MMA content I can find. And have swayed from my addiction to NFL & NHL.

    Do you ever speak on/with Showdown Joe on the Fan 590? He is so under-publicized and his time slot sucks, so I never hear if he has any decent guests or not.

  • Sam Caplan says:


    I’m not sure about your question? I got into writing about MMA as a hobby, not because I thought I’d get writing gigs out of it. If I had wanted to write about boxing, I would have done that instead. I just lost interest in boxing over time and gained interest in MMA over that same time.

    I am definitely nothing more than a casual boxing fan. I will watch a good fight if it’s on but even if it’s a big fight, I won’t pay for it if I know I can watch it for free on HBO or Showtime a week later.

    I am not familiar with Showdown Joe on the Fan 590. I’m in Philadelphia.

  • Danny says:

    Trinidad vs jones is a joke. this is boxing getting desperate.

  • Evan says:

    Sam I wonder how much of a MMA fan you will be in a decade or two if your’re still doing this. I know some sports writers have a hard time truly enjoying the sport anymore after a given time.

    Anyway I don’t take what a conviceted murderer says too seriously. I wonder if he still sees the faces of the two guys he killed in his dreams. Maybe the guy who he shot in the back he just visits his dreams on odd days and the guy he beat to death on even days? Roast in hell Donny Boy! Considering your age it won’t be too far away!

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Evan, I lost a lot of interest in football, baseball, and basketball while covering it but I lost interest because of how the athletes conducted themselves and treated people. So far in covering MMA, I find the athletes and the way they treat everyone to be the most enjoyable aspect of covering the sport.

  • Derek B. says:

    I met a handful of Dodger pro baseball players up in dodgertown while my brother played for them. I found that most of the ones that I went up to weren’t very open to being greeted by their fans. After that day i lost alot of respect for baseball players.

    I’m still waiting for the day that I meet a MMA Figther on the streets or at a bar or something…that’d be the day of my life.

  • Evan says:

    “Evan, I lost a lot of interest in football, baseball, and basketball while covering it but I lost interest because of how the athletes conducted themselves and treated people. So far in covering MMA, I find the athletes and the way they treat everyone to be the most enjoyable aspect of covering the sport.”

    You know what Sam…I have heard that before. I have also heard that people who cover the NHL never grow tired of it because of the unique attitutdes of the players. Just like you said with MMA athletes.

  • […] Posted by Diegonightmare Source: Five Ounces of Pain | Don King thinks the UFC is in decline Hehehe. I think King’s upset that not only is his sport going the way of the dinosaur among the […]

  • Popetastic says:

    The thing that always gets me about old farts like Don King’s prognostications about the rebirth of boxing and the decline of mma: Where are the stars of boxing? Who is going to replace the aging De La Hoya, Trinidad, Hopkins, Jones Jr.? Holyfield, Lewis, Tyson, Bowe, Moorer and Foreman are all done. No one has replaced them. There are very few young boxers left with any sort of draw. Mayweather has no competition, so he’s resorting to a rematch with an Oscar De La Hoya years removed from his prime.

    I mean, the best P4P boxer in the world, hands-down, is Bernard Hopkins. He’s 43 years old! And he’s basically the only guy left in boxing that I’d drop pay-per-view dollars on. Imagine if Randy Couture was the only guy worth watching in MMA? That wouldn’t speak too highly for the future of the sport.

    But it’s boxing, not MMA, that has this problem. I think you need stars to build and maintain interest in a sport. MMA, and UFC in particular are building more and more bona-fide stars each year. Tired goats like Larry Merchant, Jim Lampley and the evil Don King aren’t going to be able to defend their product too much longer without it sounding like a complete joke.

  • joe says:

    plain and simple:boxing has been in decline since the 20s. its a top dog sport at this point. The core audience will always be the underprivleged and more hispanic. mma has the white male 18-38 demo. everyone else isnt the core audience of either sport.

  • el feo says:

    I’m going to defend boxing here and talk up guys like Kelly Pavlik, Miguel Cotto and Pacquiao as worth paying to see. Ironically being a fan of MMA got me back into boxing as well.

    Don King, though, I will never defend him. The sooner he is gone from the boxing and media scene, the better.

    And I still easily prefer MMA. 5 good fights on a PPV versus 1 good undercard fight on a boxing show if you’re lucky.

  • KOuch says:

    Don King is a senial cock monger. His bias opinion is based on jealousy. Trinidad and Jones?!? What a joke. How about the UFC have Ken Shamrock and Tank Abbott? I am yet to hear one boxing fan, promoter or any associate make an educated comment about MMA. Fuck Don King. The sooner him and Arum are gone the better for boxing.

  • Davey D says:

    Boxing wasn’t so bad in 2007. Lets see….Maywheather vs Oscar, biggest draw eva, still thought the fight sucked though. These were the better ones…Cotto vs. Mosley, Kesler vs. Joe Calzege, Taylor vs. Pavlik, The Contender finale, Kermit Critton’s KO win was sweet. Lastly, Pretty Boy Floyd vs. Ricky Hatton, which was frickin’ awesome.

    So, I guess Don King feels the need to say something about one slip in the cracks. Why? Because this is America and everyone has their own opinion’s and no matter how stupid they are. People will respond. Like me.

    Don, if you don’t think you’ll get your hard earned cash money’s worth out of UFC 80. Go to your local Hooters, Strip Club or Buffalo Wild Wings and watch it there. Wait…hold the phone. You may not be able to because of Tito vs. Jones. Which, I’m sure your all warm and fuzzy about. Right?

    Wait til’ UFC 80 is over, which by the way, is a great start for the New Year. Then you can tune in and watch the UFN this Wednesday night on Spike TV. UFC 81 on February 2nd. UFC 82 on March 3rd. UFC 83 on April 19th. I could keep going. All the PPV events currently have Title bouts with plenty of undercard fights that will keep people on the edge of their seat for the whole night.

    Decline, you say? Keep dreaming Buster.

  • Rich says:

    I agree with Sam on getting sick of professional players being jerks to their fans. I do have alot of respect some athletes who enjoy fans and realize that its the fans that in the long run pay their salaries. On the other hand I have met hof hockey player Ted Lindsay and he is an asshole to people. So believe me he lives up to the nickname terrible Ted. Popetastic I could not agree with you more because there are really not very many boxing events that I would get on ppv because of the lack luster bouts. I used to get all of Tysons ppv events when he was in his prime and I would not care if it was 40 dollars because I knew he was going to knock someone out and if it lasted 2 mins it was bonus coverage. I also think that all boxing promoters are crooks.

  • andy says:

    i’ve been lucky enough to run into a couple dudes from the UFC where i work (theres a large fight oriented TV station close by) and so far.. they’ve all been stand up guys. all willing to stop and say hello.. answer a couple questions, etc. seems like they’re all quite down to earth, just regular people (as cliche as that sounds). anyways, thats just been my experience.

  • Sam is BS says:

    did you have Dana’s penis in your mouth while writing this

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Can’t someone express an opinion on this site without you accusing them of having someone’s penis in their mouth? Either start bringing something to the table when you comment or your comments from this point forward will be deleted.

  • Sam is BS says:

    Because I think your very biased towards boxing and some fighters and im not the only 1 who thinks that.

  • Popetastic says:

    Even if that were true, your comment is just stupid.

  • ctownhood says:

    I know this card (UFC 80) was touted as weak, but in retrospect, this is one of the best PPV broadcasts in a long time!!! Every fight was enjoyable! I thin it’s unfair to judge events on paper before they happen, because some of the cards that looked great om paper turned out to be snoozfests!


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