It's the fight of 2016 that just won't die. We first heard rumblings of it over the summer, and now it's back again: #ConorMcGregor and #FloydMayweather throwing down. #ArielHelwani tweeted yesterday that the involved parties are now in the "exploratory phase", supposedly making the fight a real possibility, more than a mere "pipe dream". I'm sorry, but I'm not buying it.
New "news" of this story broke when #DanaWhite made a public offer of $25 million plus pay-per-view points to both fighters, which, predictably, Mayweather laughed off. Despite the "real offer", as White termed it, there are still plenty of reasons to be skeptical that a bout between combat sports' biggest stars will ever come to fruition.
The UFC, McGregor, And Mayweather Will Never Come To Terms
Conor is under exclusive contract with the UFC, so trying to make a deal without involving the world's largest MMA promotion is not going to happen. The WME-IMG-owned company would hit McGregor with a lawsuit if he tried to fight outside his contract. The UFC most likely would be able to prevent him from fighting at all by bogging him down in legal issues until the fight went away. If McGregor managed to carry off a bout with Mayweather without the UFC, he could also possibly be sued for damages and lose a significant portion of his purse.
None of the people involved are into the idea of co-promotion, but that is what will have to happen for McGregor and Mayweather to meet one day. And cutting the UFC into a possible matchup creates an untenable problem. Mayweather is used to collecting the majority of the revenue from his bouts. McGregor will no doubt want his cut to equal Mayweather's, and trying to make that work doesn't leave a percentage the UFC will find acceptable. All parties would have to take a pay cut to make a three-way split of what is usually just divided between two headliners. Pardon me for being skeptical.
Do McGregor and Mayweather Really Want To Fight Each Other?
I'm not even sure the two men who are supposed to face off in this fantasy matchup actually want to. It seems clear at this point that a potential MMA fight between McGregor and Mayweather is completely off the table, which makes sense. Mayweather would get throttled in a fight in which he could be taken down, kicked, or kneed. Everyone seems to realize the truth of this, so any potential fight would have to be in a boxing ring.
McGregor is known for his stratospheric confidence, but even he has to know that a pure boxing match against one of the best defensive pugilists of all time would be an uphill climb, at best. And at worst, it would be an embarrassing mismatch. Even with all the dough he stands to rake in, the "Notorious" one has a massive ego that would not take bad beating well.
To be fair, McGregor has not shied away from challenges before. He agreed to fight #ChadMendes on short notice - a guy many thought would be a bad stylistic matchup for him - when #JoseAldo pulled out of UFC 189. He also signed a bout agreement for #RafaeldosAnjos, another strong wrestler many predicted would give him problems. McGregor may have opened as an underdog to both Mendes and dos Anjos, but at no point would he be a massive dog to anyone from featherweight on up to welterweight (according to bestfightodds.com, he's +125 against welterweight champion Tyron Woodley).
But the former multi-division boxing champion would be a significant favorite over the Irishman. Maybe the massive payday (assuming the fight could actually get made) would be worth the risk of catching a bad beating in front of millions of people. Or could McGregor actually make the fight competitive?
The Fight Would Be Completely One-Sided
I'm sorry, but you're kidding yourself if you have any illusions that McGregor could make it a real fight with Mayweather. Conor is lauded for his outstanding boxing and knockout power in his MMA fights, but they just won't translate to the ring. His powerful left hand is set up, at least in part, by the threat of his other tools. Robbed of his other weapons and squaring off with a man who made pound-for-pound boxers look foolish, McGregor would be at a massive disadvantage. Believing otherwise is delusional.
The same people that are clamoring for a "Notorious" vs. "Money" match are the same people that contemplated whether #RondaRousey could beat Mayweather or men's bantamweights in the UFC. They lauded her striking after she knocked out #BetheCorreia. That should tell you everything you need to know about this matchup's viability.
So, sorry to all of you who want to see this farce actually go down. No doubt we would see some truly wild promotion for it, but I just don't see it coming off. Getting everyone on board is a monumental task - Floyd doesn't need the fight, Conor has plenty of other options, and neither of them are known for taking pay cuts. McGregor will talk a big game, but would probably prefer to keep his sparring with Mayweather to the verbal variety.
Ironically, the one who most badly needs this is the UFC. WME-IMG borrowed billions to buy the company, and this fight would make bank. Good luck to them getting it done.