- UFC Takes Center Stage on Mexican Independence Day Weekend, Boxing Takes a Backseat
- Conclusion: Shifting Traditions and Evolving Preferences
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UFC Takes Center Stage on Mexican Independence Day Weekend, Boxing Takes a Backseat
The Mexican Boxing Tradition
For the past 30 years, the city of Las Vegas has witnessed an annual pilgrimage of Mexicans on Mexican Independence Day weekend to attend a fight card headlined by a Mexican star. This tradition began in 1994 when Julio César Chávez stopped Meldrick Taylor at the MGM Grand. Over the years, this weekend has become synonymous with boxing, with fighters like Canelo Álvarez carrying the torch and becoming the preeminent choice to fight in Las Vegas on these important Mexican fight weekends. However, this year’s Mexican Independence Day weekend in Las Vegas comes with a twist – the octagon of the UFC will take center stage for the first time in its history.
A Shift in the Fight Card
Instead of a boxing ring, the main event at the T-Mobile Arena will feature Mexican Alexa Grasso, the UFC’s No. 1 pound-for-pound women’s fighter, defending her flyweight title in a rematch against Valentina Shevchenko. This shift allows UFC to make a significant milestone and further penetrate the Mexican and Mexican American markets, an objective that Dana White, the president of UFC, has been vocal about for years.
The Strange Combination of Factors
The unexpected shift in the fight card has left many wondering what happened to tradition. According to Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza, the plan was for Álvarez to fight in Las Vegas on the traditional weekend again this year. However, due to several factors, including the failure of his previous promoter, Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, to hold the date at the T-Mobile Arena with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Álvarez’s fight with Jermell Charlo had to be scheduled for two weeks after Mexican Independence Day. The second position for the date at the T-Mobile Arena was then claimed by the UFC.
The Venue and Money Matters
Some have questioned why the event couldn’t be held in another building in Las Vegas. According to Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, the T-Mobile Arena is the preferred venue due to its capacity to handle a fight of this level. The T-Mobile Arena can seat around 20,000 people, offering the opportunity to sell as many tickets as possible and generate the biggest gate for the event.
The UFC’s Push in Mexico
While boxing may have lost its place on this year’s Mexican Independence Day weekend, the UFC sees this as an opportunity to strengthen its presence in Mexico. The UFC estimates there are 18.6 million UFC fans in Mexico, with 49% of fans falling in the 18 to 34 age range. The company’s roster includes 27 fighters from Mexico, and Brandon Moreno became the first Mexican-born UFC champion in 2021.
To further expand its reach, the UFC plans to open a 32,000-square-foot performance center in Mexico City by the end of the year. This center will serve as the hub for the UFC in Mexico, providing training facilities and support for up-and-coming fighters. With more Mexican talent being developed, the UFC hopes to showcase its fighters on future Mexican fight weekends.
Boxing vs. UFC: A Rivalry or Coexistence?
Though the shift in the fight card may be perceived as a threat to boxing, many within the industry maintain that it is not a competition between the two sports, but rather an evolution and a response to changing interests. Lawrence Epstein, COO of the UFC, believes that the younger generation is becoming more interested in mixed martial arts due to its excitement, unexpected outcomes, and overall production quality.
Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, remains confident in boxing‘s ability to prevail when putting its best against the UFC. He believes that each sport has its own devoted fan base, and boxing‘s rich history and iconic figures like Canelo Álvarez set it apart from MMA.
Conclusion: Shifting Traditions and Evolving Preferences
The shift in the fight card on Mexican Independence Day weekend marks a significant change in the tradition that has been cherished for decades. Boxing, once the sole focus of the weekend, has now taken a backseat to the UFC. This change reflects the evolving preferences of a younger audience and the UFC’s strategic efforts to capture the Mexican and Mexican American markets.
While some may mourn the loss of the boxing tradition, it is important to recognize that both sports can coexist and cater to different audiences. Boxing‘s rich history and established stars still hold significant appeal, while the UFC offers a different kind of excitement and dynamic athleticism that attracts a new generation of fans.
As the UFC continues to expand its presence in Mexico and attract more Mexican fighters, it is likely that we will see further shifts in the landscape of combat sports. Both boxing and the UFC have the potential to captivate audiences and provide thrilling moments in their own unique ways. It is up to the fans to embrace these changes and appreciate the diverse offerings of the combat sports world. Ultimately, the success and longevity of each sport will depend on their ability to adapt to the ever-changing preferences of their audiences.
<< photo by Thao LEE >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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