Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mehweather MehGregor

The heavily discussed, ahem, "superfight" between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor seems to appeal to.....

* people who will buy any Mayweather pay-per-view
* people who will buy any McGregor PPV
* boxing fans who want to see their sport "defended" by seeing Mayweather beat McGregor senseless
* MMA fans who want to see their sport "defended" by seeing McGregor be the first person to ever defeat Mayweather, or at least put up a competitive showing (more on this later)
* people who just love any sort of hyped-up spectacle
* Mayweather's people, McGregor's people, the UFC itself and the state of Nevada, all of whom stand to make a fortune by promoting this fight

So all in all, it's a pretty significant subsection of humanity.  Nobody doubts that this fight, if it actually does happen, would be a big PPV draw.  There are millions and millions worth of financial reasons why the fight should and may very well happen.

As for me personally, as you might have guessed, I have zero interest in this matchup.  Less than zero, really.  I'm not a boxing fan and still a pretty notable UFC fan, though my interest in that sport has certainly diminished over the last couple of years.  Ironically, it could be that the UFC's gradual shift into becoming boxing (in terms of promoting 'superfights' and big names ahead of title bouts between legitimate contenders) that is hurting my interest.

McGregor is himself somewhat the poster child for this, though like many, I really enjoy watching him fight.  Say what you will about McGregor, but he has backed up his talk --- he cleanly won the UFC featherweight title, and less than a year later, he cleanly won the lightweight title.  In terms of actually watching McGregor compete, I have no complaints....well, as long as he's facing legitimate ranking-determining challenges and not inexplicable matches with Nate Diaz.

The problem is that McGregor has now, for all intents and purposes, become bigger than the UFC.  The company had always been pretty careful about keeping their champions and biggest stars under the UFC's banner and playing by their rules, when it came to regular defenses of their titles.  Sure, you still got the odd bit of nonsense (a title put on hold for months so the champ and challenger could be coaches on an Ultimate Fighter season, or a somewhat dubious challenger suddenly getting a boost in the UFC's own internal rankings to justify a title shot), but by and large, it was still essentially a meritocracy.  With a few exceptions, the UFC has generally always stuck to the pattern of treating their promotion like a sport, and if a guy won enough fights, he'd eventually get his shot at the title.  It wasn't like boxing, where titles and governing bodies are essentially meaningless behind big names and promotional companies.

McGregor, however, is breaking the rulebook.  He has pursued titles, of course, but as a means to an end.  He had a great interest in becoming a two-division champion, but not in actually defending those belts.  As soon as he won the featherweight title, he immediately set his sights on the 155-pound title and then the Diaz fights --- McGregor has since surrendered the FW belt and left the division entirely.  Now that he has won the lightweight belt, it's an open question as to whether or not he'll actually defend it, or move on up to 170 pounds to either challenge Tyrone Woodley or pursue a superfight with Georges St. Pierre, OR just forego MMA altogether for this boxing match pipe dream with Mayweather.  The UFC has allowed this to happen since McGregor = big money, so the company has essentially let him call his shots.  Now, you see the influence creeping into the other divisions, with the likes of Michael Bisping or Woodley suddenly demanding only big-money superfights instead of mandatory title defenses against worthy challengers. 

If McGregor gets this Mayweather fight, it'll net him an eight-figure payday and quite possibly lead to his retirement altogether from combat sports.  He'll have gotten enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life, and McGregor has already discussed retirement now that he's a father.  Assuming he invests wisely, McGregor will never have any need to step back into a UFC cage again.

From the UFC's perspective, they'll be gaining the short-term financial bump of this megafight, with the longer-term challenge of McGregor potentially leaving, the chaos he has left to the UFC's competitive model in his wrought, and (oh yeah) the overwhelming chance that McGregor is going to get humiliated in this boxing match.

Let's not mince words here: McGregor has zero chance of actually beating Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match.  Mayweather, despite being a scumbag, is also one of the best boxers in history.  I realize the surface similarities between boxing and MMA have led to the interest in this matchup, but they are such wildly different sports that this fight is an absurd mismatch.  This is like McGregor challenging LeBron James to a one-on-one in basketball, or McGregor hitting the ice to take on Patrick Chan in a figure skating competition.  Nobody would give McGregor a hope in hell in those matchups, nor would they reasonably expect it to be close....yet for some reason, there is a not-insignificant portion of the public that actually thinks McGregor could knock Mayweather out.

Mayweather could end this fight within a round if he wanted to, or (potentially even worse) he could drag things out for 12 full rounds and just punish McGregor the entire time, if Conor could last or if his corner didn't throw in the towel at some point.  There's also the chance Mayweather could drag it out just because he can, leading to another noncompetitive snoozer that would leave PPV buyers feeling ripped off, like several of his other fights.  McGregor may well be willing to take a beating to make a fortune, since while he's a confident man, he isn't a stupid one.  If you're Mayweather, who loves both money and keeping his perfect record intact, why *not* take an easy fight and guaranteed W against a big box office draw?

It could be that this fight, of course, ends up being a lot of posturing and politicking and no actual negotiations.  There is a theory that this whole thing is just McGregor and Mayweather's way of keeping their names in the public eye, or they're both angling for (respectively) a bigger UFC contract or a bigger payday to fight an actual legit boxer.  If this is the case, then it's only a waste of everyone's time and speculation.  If the fight does happen, it'll be a waste of your PPV dollars.

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