After a heated debate in the Angulo vs. Kirkland aftermath, I thought I'd take a shot at comparing the two sports and its fanbase. First and foremost, I'm a martial artist and kickboxer who is a big fan of boxing, and use my experience to analyze fights and fighters and the sports in general. I do admit I do not know much about wrestling and jujitsu besides a spectator interest and having learned a few basics with friends. I feel MMA and Boxing are similar ONLY because they are fighting sports and that both are on TV. Besides those two similarities I feel they are as different as night and day. I've seen both sides of the fence: MMA fight fans who think they know a thing or two about boxing (they know nothing about the sport except that it is a form of "MMA" without the kicks and take downs and ground fighting), and then Boxing fans who think they know a thing or two about MMA (it's simply a rough form of boxing with take downs, you know, some ugly punches with no jab, some wrestling in tights and hugging, and oh yeah, those kicks, but it's pretty much the same thing as Boxing but not as good or as old, Boxing is not dead!!).
First, let me break down some of their differences. MMA is about 3-4 degrees removed from Boxing. If we were to start from one side of the spectrum- boxing - then the next type of fighting sport that we would find similarities with would be kickboxing and/or Muay Thai. The main organization that champions that sport is K-1 in Japan (or did). Kickboxing allows all the main punches in boxing (Jabs, Hooks, Uppercuts), along with kicks (Side Kicks, Front Push Kicks, Roundhouse Kicks), knees (to the head, body, and legs), and I believe they allow elbows too. This is similar to boxing in that they fight in a square ring with ropes, they have 2-3 minute rounds, they have a referee and they have standing 8 counts and 10 counts on the ground, and the fights are fought primarily on the feet. There is room in Kickboxing to employ lateral movement, ring generalship, jabbing, but the difference is kicking allows for a huge diversity of ranges for striking and makes one think twice about slipping, bobbing and weaving, and ducking because one could receive a knee or kick in the head under the wrong circumstances (not to say they shouldn't do it because they are very important defensive maneuvers). Kicks, knees, and elbows also allow for a larger range of combinations. This also means that their punches are usually not as fine tuned as boxers simply because there are more weapons to cultivate and sometimes their strategies are not as refined as well. Another difference is that in kickboxing or any stand up martial art requires at least 2-3 years to develop the strength and flexibility in the legs to throw competent kicks, and about 5 years to throw them with fluidity with the hands and feet, and 10+ years to simply be good at the martial arts in general.
The next degree removed from boxing I would LIKE to say would be wrestling and jujitsu: the stand up, the take down, and what transgresses next on the ground. However, that is not the case. The next degree in my opinion is the Chinese Kickboxing Sport called "Sanda" or "Sanshou". Sanshou does not allow elbows or knees, but they allow full contact punches and kicks to the head, body, and legs, and also fighters get extra points for a throw or take down. This extra element forces fighters to be alert on securing take downs (single and double leg take downs as well as take downs off of a grabbed kick or punch which turns into a throw) and also defending take downs while they are trying to knock each other's block off.
The third degree removed from boxing would be wrestling as the competitors start on their feet and attempt to wrestle each other down and then secure a dominant position for points. In addition, from my knowledge there is Olympic style wrestling, shoot wrestling, submission wrestling, catch wrestling, and Greco Roman wrestling. I don't assume to know the next thing about wrestling besides the basics and what some of them represent. Some would put the Japanese art of Judo in this category too as it requires using the moment of the opponent to toss or throw them to the mat from a standing position.
The fourth degree would be Brazilian Jujitsu, Jujitsu, Submission Wrestling, and any other type of ground fighting or submission type of fighting. This type of fighting is the furthest away from my knowledge base, but I will say I have great respect for this discipline and that anyone without formal training who takes a Jujitsu guy to the ground is bound to get submitted or choked out within 2 minutes. It is deadly and something to be weary of (I "rolled" or sparred on the ground with a Jujitsu guy last week and got choked out 4 times in 5 minutes).
Then the 5th degree removed from Boxing would be MMA which is a blend and mix of all these types of fighting which can be each a discipline within themselves (not to mention the addition of more Traditional arts too such as Kung Fu, Escrima/Kali [Filipino stick fighting], Capoeria, Karate, Aikido [think Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida with their last KO's on their opponent via snap kick to face which was taught by Steven Segal] ). To add, many MMA fighters today including Nick Diaz, Anderson Silva, George St. Pierre, and Jon Jones have formally studied boxing and have boxing coaches. Are they the best boxers as a whole? Of course not, but when you combine that with all the other arts they have to learn: kickboxing, wrestling, jujitsu etc., they are quite impressive.
All I'm trying to say is that Boxing and MMA are very different and I could easily go on a rant the other way around towards MMA fans. There are too many differences in the sport that many people cannot form an educated opinion about the other without personal experience in at least two or more disciplines because you simply will not have the proper perspective, angle, or knowledge base to comment on them. With regards to MM and KK, I'm sorry I came of as pretentious in the previous posts, the comments were aimed from a MMA slant, I know you know your boxing. That is it. Holler!