Former UFC welterweight title contender and now one of the best analysts currently working across any sector of combat sports, Dan Hardy has made a living in his post-fight career in deconstructing fights, fighters and their motivations.
Ahead of the upcoming Artem Lobov vs. Paulie Malignaggi bareknuckle boxing event set for June 22 in Tampa, Florida, Malignaggi has been the recipient of strong criticism from fans for his actions at this week’s press conference in which he spat at Lobov during a confrontation between the pair. Unfortunately for all concerned, the spit landed on the cheek of David Feldman, President of Bare Knuckle FC.
Undaunted, Malignaggi continued to criticize mixed martial arts during his time on the microphone and in individual interviews afterwards, citing a perception he has that the MMA community thinks their sports is the ‘tougher’ of the two.
“Lobov and the mixed martial arts community have really disrespected my sport in a lot of ways; boxing, saying that we fight with pads on and it’s not a real fighting sport and what not, but we have all the deaths,” Malignaggi said.
“We have more of the deaths by a long shot. We have more of the permanent damage by a long shot. This is not to diminish the danger of mixed martial arts or any other combat sport, but there is a reason why boxing has more deaths and more traumatic brain injuries in one night because we are the most dangerous combat sport.”
The issue of fatalities and serious injury in combat sports is an odd topic for Malignaggi to ‘one-up’ mixed martial arts and, in response to these comments, Dan Hardy offered a stark rebuttal.
“It disappoints me that he is grouping all MMA fans together,” Hardy said on Sirius XM via BJPenn.com. “We are not all grouped together, we are not poking fun at boxing because they wear pads, we do respect it and it’s often been boxing that has drawn the ‘us vs you’ argument because of the rise of MMA.”
Hardy went on to state that mentioning the deaths in boxing is an odd point to brag about and that instead of accepting these figures, the boxing community should be doing all in their power to reduce them — and that starts with fighters such as Malignaggi stopping glorifying the potential health hazards inherent to both sports.
“To claim the deaths in boxing is ridiculous, to say we’re [boxing] the toughest sport because we have the most deaths is silly,” Hardy said. “Maybe what we should do is analyze why there are deaths in boxing and see if we can fix it, and part of the problem maybe is [that] they are wearing padded hands.
“Now Paulie is going to get a very different look when he’s bare-knuckle boxing cause he’s going to break both his hands on Artem Lobov’s head. He’s got soft hands and no punching power as it is…He’s also set the bar very high now because if he goes into this fight against Artem, he breaks both his hands and he can’t continue to fight what’s he going to do, tough guy it through?
“What we’re interested in is the most efficient and effective style of fighting. It’s not a comparison with boxing, it never has been. I appreciate the art of boxing, but it is a small element of the whole of combat sports and it has been so refined that it is not really very realistic in real combat.”