For many years, boxing was the dominant fighting sport in the west and the only one that the general public heard about. That’s all changed in recent times, with other sports such as UFC and MMA taking their share of the headlines.
However, perhaps the biggest change has been that it’s no longer just professional boxers who are attracting huge audiences. The potential that fighting holds hasn’t escaped the attention of social influencers, and YouTubers have been getting into the ring.
This has been a controversial move and one that not everyone is happy about. However, it’s not the only way that fighting has expanded its reach; here’s a closer look at what’s been going on.
The Impact of Social Media
Boxing has always been littered with megastars, especially in the heavyweight division. But for every Mike Tyson, Anthony Joshua, and Tyson Fury, there are plenty of lesser-known boxers who are destined to fight on the undercard forever.
The rise of MMA and UFC has been meteoric, and it has given rise to the potential for crossover fights. While the big-name fighters in boxing don’t need to entertain the idea of fighting in a different discipline, it’s giving others more opportunities.
This is particularly the case when you throw social influencers into the mix, as there’s a real trend for YouTubers to get into the ring for a fight. YouTuber Jake Paul recently took on ex-UFC fighter Tyron Woodley, but the two men switched to boxing rather than Woodley’s own sport.
The result of that bout was a Jake Paul win, but it’s a fight that garnered a lot of attention.
Another big draw in 2021 was the YouTubers vs TikTokers white collar fight, an occasion that saw the YouTubers emerge victoriously. The matches were streamed live on social media sites, with other platforms offering them as pay-per-view.
The appetite for a broader range of fighting seems insatiable right now, and there’s no sign that in the future, it will return to pro-fighters only.
Combining Multiple Styles
One factor which has contributed to the broader appeal of fighting is the crossovers between the different sports. Historically, boxing, MMA, and other fighting styles were kept very separate, with no one switching between the two.
The social media bouts have changed all of that, with fighters moving from different disciplines to take part in highly publicized fights. But to find the origins of this, you have to look way beyond the rise of conflicts on social media.
Boxing, MMA, UFC, and other fighting styles have been popular in gaming for some time. The latest Street Fighter slot continues this genre and provides the perfect example of how different fighting disciplines can come together. This online game has already proven to be extremely popular, taking the top spot with spin-off merchandise also selling well.
One of the reasons for the popularity is that the characters in the game employ various fighting styles, and some use more than one.
Balrog is an ex-boxer and fights with a traditional boxing style, albeit with some kicks and headbutts thrown in for good measure. Sagat is one of the main adversaries in the original Street Fighter, and he uses Thai Boxing while Zangief is an ex-Russian wrestler, so he relies on grappling skills to win. There are several characters who are dependent on martial arts, such as Chun-Li (Chinese Martial Arts), Ryu (karate), and Ken Masters (strike-based martial arts such as Kempo and Karate).
By combining the different disciplines in a single game, fighting reaches a wider audience and has the potential to bring new fans into the real-life sport.