June 15, 2017
By Brian Edwards
In July of 2015 just days before he was to face Chad Mendes for the UFC’s interim featherweight title, Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor appeared on the Conan O’Brien Show. Never shy to speak boldly, the brash Irish mixed martial artist let loose on national television.
“If you’re asking would I like to fight Floyd Mayweather – I mean, who would not like to dance around the ring for $180 million?” McGregor said.
“I certainly know he would not want to step into my world; the world of pure unarmed combat where there’s no limitations, but I most certainly would step into his world. I would certainly box him if the opportunity arose. Most certainly. If we were to get it on, I would most certainly dismantle him, also.”
Then in January of 2016, Mayweather told Fight Hype in an interview, “They say he talk a lot of trash and people praise him for it, but when I did it, they say I’m cocky and arrogant. So biased! Like said before, all I’m saying is this, I ain’t racist at all, but I’m telling you racism still exists.”
This set McGregor off. He posted a long Instagram post noting how the Irish have been oppressed for their entire existence, telling Floyd not to ever bring race into his success again.
In May of 2016, Mayweather started hinting at coming out of retirement. Both men sent out social-media teasers about a potential showdown between the two. This ratcheted up the conversation amongst fans and the media.
McGregor even posted a picture of him standing over a knocked out Mayweather with the caption, “Call me C.J. Watson!” Credit McGregor for doing his homework on Mayweather, who once was jailed on a domestic-violence charge. The narrative around the charges were that Mayweather was angry with his kids’ mother because she had started dating Watson, an NBA player at the time.
As we moved into 2017, the social-media taunts of each other continued. UFC President Dana White shifted course and stated that he was now on board, using the line that “he would never deny Conor the chance to make this much money.” Once that happened, it appeared to only be a matter of time as long as negotiations went well.
And then it became official on June 14: Mayweather is coming out of retirement to face the UFC’s lightweight champion in a 12-round boxing match at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug. 26. The fight will be contested at 154 pounds and 10-inch gloves will be used.
Mayweather, considered the best boxer of his era and one of the greatest ever, will take a 49-0 record into the ring. This event gives him the opportunity to take his win total to 50 and pocket a nine-figure payday.
White revealed Wednesday on “UFC Tonight” that Mayweather Promotions will book the undercard. When asked if Anderson Silva would fight Roy Jones Jr on the undercard, White told TMZ Sports, “I highly doubt it.”
There have been odds out for months. Back on Feb.15, 5Dimes.eu opened Mayweather as a -850 favorite. By late March, the number peaked at -1100 (risk $1,100 to win $100). But when the fight was announced yesterday, the offshore website moved Mayweather to -950, then to -900 and then down to -650, where it was this morning (6/15). This left McGregor as a +475 underdog (risk $100 to win $475).
The total is 9.5 rounds (-135 for the ‘over;’ +105 to the ‘under’). Proposition bets for Mayweather to win by TKO/KO or DQ have -120 odds, while the number for him to win by decision is +120. Meanwhile, McGregor has 7/1 odds to win by TKO/KO or DQ. For McGregor to win in Round 1, a 40/1 return is available (risk $100 to win $4,000).
McGregor has never participated in an amateur or pro boxing match. With that said, his knockout power with four-inch gloves in the Octagon has been on full display for years. He has seven KOs in his nine career UFC victories. McGregor (74 inches) will enjoy a two-inch reach advantage over Mayweather (72 inches).
Also, youth (28-years-old) is on McGregor’s side compared to Mayweather (40-years-old). McGregor has been actively fighting as well, while Mayweather hasn’t fought since a unanimous-decision win over Andre Berto on Sept. 12 of 2015.
In recent weeks, White has indicated his doubts about McGregor returning to the UFC after making this much money. He confirmed last night that McGregor’s haul would be at least $100 million. However, White expressed confidence on UFC Tonight that not only does McGregor plan to beat Mayweather, but he also wants to defend his 155-pound UFC strap in December.
I spoke to Jason Floyd of The MMA Report this morning about the fight and what the results could mean for boxing and MMA. Floyd said, “A win by McGregor is probably the worse-case scenario for the UFC. If that were to somehow happen, which I don’t expect, we’d have to think that McGregor’s days in MMA are over. A win by McGregor would be viewed as bad in the boxing world. All I know is that this will be the Super Bowl of combat sports and it’s going to be a fun ride leading up to the event.”
I agree with most of Floyd’s thoughts. I highly doubt that McGregor can win this fight. In my mind, his best shot is a knockout in the early rounds, but Mayweather by decision is the most likely scenario.
In fact, like nearly all of Mayweather’s fights (unless you’re just a hardcore fan of the sweet science and appreciate Floyd’s ability to not get hit), I think this will be a snoozer. What won’t be boring is the promotion of this blockbuster event.
Mayweather can talk trash extremely well and has plenty of artillery in his pocket to use in dealing out verbal facts. However, he’ll be dealing with perhaps the best trash talker to ever walk this planet with the possible exception of the late/great Muhammad Ali. (with apologies to Chael Sonnen!)
Many such as Oscar De La Hoya have spoken poorly about this fight. The premise of that criticism is that this makes the sport of boxing look bad by featuring an all-time great against someone who has never stepped foot in the ring.
More than anything, though, I think this event coming to fruition simply speaks to the fact of what an international star McGregor has become in the last 3-4 years. Many, including myself, didn't think this could all come together, but here we are.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports also went on UFC Tonight on Wednesday, predicting that the bout would do at least 3.5 million pay-per-view buys and possibly as many as 4 million. Mayweather-Pacquiao's 4.6 million buys is the all-time record.
The only time a boxer has entered the MMA world was when James Toney faced Randy Couture at UFC 118 in 2010. Couture scored a quick single-leg takedown before Toney could land any punches with the four-inch gloves. Then he dominated Toney on the ground, eventually submitting him by arm-triangle choke 3:16 into the opening round.
Let's hope Mayweather-McGregor will be more competitive.
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