As you’ve all heard by now, Roy Jones jr. has put together a card with a really awful name called March Badness that will be the first big MMA/Boxing hybrid card. Not only will Jones main event against Omar Sheika, a Palestinian boxer best known for having the last fight of James “The Harlem Hammer” Butler’s career before Butler ironically beat Max Kellerman’s brother Sam to death with a hammer a month later. Also on the card will be Roy Nelson vs. Jeff Monson and what is sure to be a true sloppy, bloody, botched abortion with the fetus trying to crawl away after getting yanked out before the doctor throws the scalpel like a dart to kill the little mistake: Ken Shamrock vs. WWF rassler Bobby Lashley. So the question is, can a hybrid show be successful?
Right now you have two sets of fans that hate each other’s favorite combat sport. Sure, you have fans like myself that follow both sports, but we are the vast minority. The boxing fans have such a strong hatred of MMA, angry that it is over-shadowing their combat sport of choice, believing in the propaganda people who make their money from boxing spread against it. And MMA fans in return have no love for boxing, partially due to the attitude they get from boxing purists. But also partially due to only knowing the lackluster sport it has been for the past 10 years never giving them a reason to care, whereas MMA during the past 10 years has been in a golden age.
So while the fans buying the show for both the boxing and MMA fights is going to be slim, I guess the idea from the boxing promoter is going to be to attempt to force MMA fans into watching a boxing match to get them hooked. That’s not going to happen with this fight. Watching a once-great in Jones continue his downward slide into mediocrity, where MMA fans have no idea of his glory days, only knowing his name from Anderson Silva calling it out, isn’t going to hook them. This is a showcase fight, Sheika is a journeyman fighter who has a 12 year career that has gone nowhere. The MMA equivalent of this fight would be having Chuck Liddell vs. Guy Mezger again today.
But on the other hand, boxing purists getting possibly their first full MMA fights getting a look at Shamrock-Lashley are going to be lost forever. They’re going to hear the announcers hype Shamrock as a MMA legend, then they’re going to hear Lashley was a famous pro wrestler and then no matter what happens in the travesty it’s going to turn them off forever. If they see Lashley win, then they’re going to think “Wow, MMA fighters are so shitty a fake pro wrestler can beat them.” If Shamrock beats Lashley then they’re going to wonder how good a sport can be when a big, young fighter can get shown up by a smaller, older fighter, since if Shamrock wins it’s going to be because something incredibly embarrassing happens to Lashley. The Nelson-Monson fight also won’t win any boxing fans over, since it’s sure to be a pure grappling fight that you have to be deep into MMA fandom to appreciate.
It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. Especially those putting money into it. In a bad economy where you’ve got to have a supercard to sell big, a mediocre boxing match combined with what is sure to be a trainwreck YouTube classic we can all wait an extra day to see, this is going to do nothing more but give Dana another chance to gloat.