By Mauricio Sulaimán – President of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán

September 5, 2023  – It is time to put it in black and white and clarify something that for many years has been a matter of confusion, misinterpretation and mishandling of information, which has prompted so many to be commenting on all kinds of baseless things, creating ridiculous discussions, hurting our sport of boxing.   I am talking about the famous UFC. It is increasingly common to see that the UFC is compared with boxing. But as we say in Mexico: You cannot compare apples with pears.   First, I want to clarify that the UFC deserves full credit for its incredible growth since its inception 30 years ago. They have managed to become a multi-million-dollar business.  

Let’s explore the differences: Boxing is a universal sport, the oldest of all. It has an amateur modality, being an Olympic sport in the original Games in Greece, and in the modern ones since 1904. A sport that is regulated by boxing commissions in each city, state and country, and the business side of the sport is handled solely by the promoters.
The UFC is not a sport. It is a public company that promotes mixed martial arts events, valued at several billion dollars. The UFC formed a mixed martial arts league, it promotes MMA. This company controls absolutely everything. It owns the television rights, the athletes’ contracts, and everything related to the business of the events. They own ticket sales and sponsorships. In other words, they are the promoters of their events, they are the managers of the athletes, they are the sanctioning body that awards their UFC belts and establish the rules of combat. In short, they are its entirety. The sport is known as MMA, the UFC is one company of many that exist for profit that promote and regulate its own MMA events.   Let’s talk about the United States: Boxing is regulated by laws which were introduced as the Muhammad Ali Act since 1997. This law has a series of provisions that oblige promoters, boxers, managers, organizations, and others to strictly observe and comply with the purpose of giving the athlete maximum protection.

MMA, wrestling and other contact sports aren`t subject to the Muhammad Ali law, or any other regulation; therefore, they have a free field of action.   The aforementioned law, for example, prohibits the promoter from being the athlete’s manager, thus insuring that the boxer has the fairest representation with the best conditions in contracts. This is different in the UFC, since the athletes are signed to the company.   This law prohibits any action that could become a conflict of interest. Boxing commissions and organizations like ours cannot have any relationship, at all, with the business of the sport. Our only role is rules and regulations, medical and safety protocols, antidoping programs, and the proper administration of events and championships.   The WBC is a non-profit organization which has no involvement in the boxing business. Its only way of obtaining income, for its global operation, is the sanction fees collected from promoters and fighters who participate in a fight where our belt is at stake. For a promoter and the boxers, it is of maximum benefit that the fights are for the Green and Gold Belt. The dream of every boxer since childhood is to become a WBC world champion and with its zenith achievement, fame and fortune follows. Whoever wins our championship joins a family for the rest of his or her life. We are there in good times, and side by side to overcome the bad times.
Coming back to the confusion that many have and compare the UFC with Boxing: There is so much confusion and misapprehension which exists that even boxing world champions shout from the four winds that this sport should follow the UFC model. Obviously, they don’t know what they are saying and, unfortunately, their comments reach the press and fans, obscuring the horizon all the more.   Boxing is active week after week in hundreds of cities around the world: fights of four, six, eight, 10 rounds, as well as those of 12, which are championships. The UFC, in its 30 years of existence, is about to celebrate UFC 300, meaning that, on average, they have 10 events a year. I am not certain, but I think UFC does have other models of competition, but the real big events are those billed as UFC and the number of the event.

Boxing is promoted by different companies around the world: Don King, Top Rank, Teiken, TGB, Queensberry, Golden Boy, Matchroom and hundreds of other companies. The UFC is promoted by the UFC.   If boxing promoters were to perform with the UFC model, they would immediately face serious legal problems and be shot down. That’s how the law is written. The promoter needs to follow the rules of the commissions, federations, or organizations; the UFC follows the rules of the UFC.   The same would happen if the organizations try to make our own “League” and own the events. So, dear friends, let’s desist from comparing apples to pears or even oranges, stop creating false expectations and arriving at wrong conclusions. The UFC is the equivalent of a boxing promoter, but with huge competitive advantages in terms.

Boxing is the most dignified and honorable sport, the one that has achieved the greatest protection for the athlete through rules, protocols and security measures which are constantly reviewed, revised and improved. Boxing was established 300 years ago in England, it was bareknuckle and barbaric, and had no rules or protection for the boxer. So many rules have been implemented throughout the years, and the WBC prides itself to have been the source of most changes for the benefit and safety of the fighters. Everyone involved in boxing cares for its boxers.   It is shameful that in 2023 some acts of savagery are legal, and that authorities from various countries or states allow it, and very sad that there are promoters, fans, television stations, and sponsors who get involved in these barbaric sports, such as bareknuckle boxing, slapping competitions, boxing in phone booths, and other violent so-called sports, which in reality are only a form of exploitation of human beings willing to make a dollar.

Did you know…? There is a large number of mixed martial arts leagues, as well as the UFC, some are: Bellator, Pride, Absolute Championship Akhmat, One Championship, Rizin FF, M-1 Global, Caged Steel, among many others.   Today’s anecdote… In its early days, the UFC used a marketing campaign attacking boxing, saying it was dead and the UFC would be the future. This created a hostile environment in the community of our sport. I was present with my father, José Sulaimán, on one occasion when he was interviewed on the subject, and the question was direct and very negative, calling the athletes barbaric and savage.   “Look, young man, any athlete who participates in contact sports deserves both respect and admiration. All of them are the same, some box, others wrestle or practice their martial art. But in no way will I be able to criticize the athlete. They are willing to do whatever it takes to earn a living and, one day, achieve glory, fame, and money.   “Do you think that a boxer is not willing to fight 15 rounds? Or fight without a time limit, or without gloves or in any modality that the rules indicate? They are warriors, they are unstoppable and intrepid. That is precisely why the World Boxing Council exists, to protect them from themselves. They are willing to lay down their lives in the ring as long as they escape from poverty. That is why their protection and well-being is our paramount concern plus constant responsibility.”   I welcome your feedback at
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