It’s only been a day since the Internet-breaking announcement of Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor and there has been no shortage of reaction and takes from fans, fighters, and media alike. There is a plethora of opinions on the idea of the fight and how it will go, but one thing that is apparent in the time since the announcement is that there is significant public interest in this fight, and it is likely to best any pay-per-view event UFC has ever presented and could challenge the four million plus pay-per-view buys Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao achieved in 2015.
UFC President Dana White appeared on ESPN Wednesday to publicly announce the fight and presented the case for McGregor as a legitimate challenger to the 49-0 retired boxing great, despite the fact that McGregor has never competed as a boxer at any level.
“When two men step into the ring or the Octagon, anything is possible,” White said. “Floyd Mayweather is 40 years old, he’s always had problems with southpaws. Conor McGregor is 28 years old, he is a southpaw, and whenever Conor hits people, they fall. So it’s interesting.”
Interesting is an understatement, especially coming from the typically hyperbolic White. White then held a media conference call alongside Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe Wednesday evening. Ellerbe continued the narrative of Mayweather as an all-time-great, but aging fighter taking on a young and hungry mixed martial artist with the ability to knock out anybody.
“Floyd is 40 years old,” Ellerbe said. “He’s been off for a minute. He’s gotta get his ass up and be prepared for Conor McGregor. Conor McGregor has been active, you know what I’m saying? He’s been knocking guys out. And we’d be a bunch of damn fools to sit around and sleep on this and listen to all the bullshit that everybody sits around and talks.” (SOURCE)
Some of McGregor’s former UFC foes also had something to say about the mega fight. His best-known rival, Nate Diaz, left a reminder for McGregor and everyone else of who he thinks is king of the mountain in combat sports. In an Instagram post showing Diaz standing tall over a defeated McGregor following their UFC 196 bout, Diaz left the caption, “It’s gonna be a good fight for that #2 spot.”
One of McGregor’s opponents from earlier in his rise up the UFC rankings had kind words and a renewed perspective on McGregor’s place in the sport. Dustin Poirier tweeted to McGregor: “I used to have nothing but animosity towards you. Who I am now, I understand myself and fighting so much more,” followed by, “You manifested it all and executed. Congratulations on everything.”
@TheNotoriousMMA I used to have nothing but animosity towards you. Who I am now I understand myself and fighting so much more
— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) June 15, 2017
@TheNotoriousMMA you manifested it all and executed. Congratulations on everything.
— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) June 15, 2017
Some UFC fighters are looking to jump on the gravy train as well, looking to follow McGregor in the transition to boxing and fight on the undercard. UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic lobbied for a fight with Anthony Joshua, Cris Cyborg called out Cecilia Brækhus, Cub Swanson asked for Paul Malignaggi, and Wilson Reis is looking for a bout with Gervonta Davis. With Mayweather Promotions in charge of filling out the card, the chance of any of these fights coming to fruition is unlikely.
Considering the payday McGregor is likely to receive from the fight, one that will dwarf anything he’s ever received from an MMA fight, UFC fans are right to be concerned about McGregor’s future in the Octagon. White, though, is not concerned and expects to see Conor put on the small gloves again sooner than later.
“I’m pretty confident (he fights again for UFC),” White told Fox Sports. “In the conversation that I had with him, he’s fired up for this fight and he’s excited to fight again and defend his title by the end of the year. Nothing is a guarantee. You can’t be guaranteed anybody’s ever going to fight again.”
For those wondering or hoping that Conor McGregor might try to utilize some of his mixed martial arts skills in the boxing ring, White was quick to squash that during the conference call. “There is no way that will happen,” he said. “That is absolutely in the contract, number one.”
So while he will have to stick to straight-up boxing, White shared how McGregor thinks the fight will go, and his take should surprise no one. “He is absolutely 100 percent positive that he wins this fight.”
Hiscoe’s Analysis: There’s not much to add since yesterday other than it looks like this is going to be huge. Public interest looks to be immense and I think it does at least 2 million buys on pay-per-view. It probably has to do that many in order to cover the massive purses Mayweather and McGregor are likely getting. As for the UFC fighters looking to get in on the action on the undercard, I think that’s a terrible idea. McGregor is likely to be completely outclassed by Mayweather, and to have a parade of UFC stars getting dismantled by pro-boxers on the undercard would be terrible for the sport and kill the mystique of the main event. It looks like it’s going to be a typical boxing undercard made up of fighters most of us have never heard of fighting in an empty arena, and that’s fine.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Glover Teixeira underwent surgery on his right hand yesterday. He told MMA Fighting that he should be ready to resume training in six to eight weeks.
-Dooho Choi is injured and out of his UFC 214 fight with Andre Fili. Fili is hoping to stay on the card against a new opponent.
Choi is out. Doesn't matter. I'm only focused on what I can control. I'll be ready July 29th to beat someone up.
— Andre Fili (@TouchyFili) June 14, 2017
For a taste of what Conor is in for, check out Floyd Mayweather’s 2005 fight with Arturo Gatti HERE.