Saturday, February 3, 2007

Ultimate Fighting: Threat to boxing? It's all the Rage

They scrap like wildcats in an octagonal metal cage, kicking, punching and jumping all over each other, inflicting the sort of bodily harm normally dished out down back-alleys. In America it is called Ultimate Fighting, a brutal amalgam of martial arts and mayhem that is becoming something of a cult here as Cage Rage. And it reckons it has mainstream boxing on the ropes.

In December, more than 14,000 fans packed the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas for an Ultimate Fighting Championship bill, twice as many as watched Ricky Hatton's world title bout against Juan Urango further down The Strip a fortnight later. It is catching on, and its biggest catch is Marc Ratner, the commissioner who ran boxing in Nevada, who has jumped ship with the state's leading boxing doctor, Margaret Goodman.

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