Mayweather-McGregor spectacle soars above expectations, leaving us all wondering what’s next for The Notorious One…
Success is often born from, among other things, an abundance of self confidence and self belief in one’s skills, abilities, and vision. Every success story has its antagonists… the doubters and detractors that exist to disturb and disrupt. It’s one’s unwavering inner belief that propels them through that hatred and negativity.
Conor McGregor, for all he gave up in experience and boxing savvy, never lacked the self-confidence and self-belief that he could pull off the improbable. While experts claimed he would not land a single punch, that he would embarrass himself and his sport by doing this, and that he had zero business being in the same ring as Floyd Mayweather, McGregor stayed the course.
Through all of it, Conor McGregor believed while everyone else laughed (remember all of our reactions to this?!?!)
In the end, Floyd did what many predicted he would do — dragged McGregor into deep water, deeper than he had ever fought in as a UFC fighter, and put an emphatic stamp on his undefeated career. McGregor’s ultimate undoing was not so much his boxing skillset, but rather his lack of cardio, especially compared to Floyd who could box for 100 rounds if you let him. Even as McGregor surprisingly racked up early rounds, it was clear that Floyd was content letting Conor wear himself out. It brought back flashes of Ali’s famous rope-a-dope tactic. Come the later rounds of the fight, the dip in performance was so drastic, McGregor couldn’t help but acknowledge it in his post-fight comments. It’s something he admits he needs to fix, but until such time that he does, opponents will continue to pounce on the opportunity when it arises, regardless of the venue’s geometric properties. Floyd Mayweather knew the opportunity would come. And we all knew he would be ready when it did.
One of the biggest questions facing Floyd was whether he could take Conor’s power and pace early in the fight. The answer came in the form of a stiff uppercut that landed flush on Floyd’s chin in the first round…he essentially shrugged it off. It was rather clear in that moment that Floyd was in little to no danger of suffering his first professional defeat (it should have been clear WAY BEFORE that but Conor was serving some tasty “punch” in those pressers!).
Following McGregor’s initial barrage, Mayweather turned it on in the later rounds and brought the fight to Conor, eventually forcing a 10th round stoppage by Robert Byrd. Some, including myself, initially believed the stoppage was early but after watching it again, I have no issue with how Byrd handled it — Conor was toast. He wasn’t defending himself. His legs were wobbly, maybe not entirely from damage sustained, but wobbly nonetheless. Even had he lasted to the bell, he was going down in the 11th and with so much fight left to give in his career, the “reward” of letting Mayweather put him down didn’t outweigh the risks associated with subjecting him to excessive head trauma when the result was no longer in question.
The loss was almost inevitable, yet even in defeat, Conor proved to the throng of doubters that he is a one-of-a-kind animal capable of standing toe-to-toe with a boxing legend. And he forced Floyd Mayweather to be the aggressor, something no other professional boxer in recent memory succeeded in doing.
So after an impressive showing, where does Conor go from here?
Here are the three avenues I see being available to Conor:
1. Return to the UFC
In the post-fight press conference, Dana White was pretty adamant regarding his unwillingness to talk about more boxing, instead wanting to focus on Conor’s eventual return to the UFC. McGregor is the UFC’s biggest draw and it’s not even close. The only other fighter who rivals Conor’s numbers is Jon Jones, and we all know what happened there. The UFC needs Conor McGregor. For Conor, he doesn’t need the UFC, especially after securing an estimated nine figure pay cheque once PPV numbers are counted. However, his desire to fight and continue re-writing history is still strong, and therefore a return to the octagon is likely where his story goes from here.
Nate Diaz – Trilogy fight at 155 lbs
Winner of Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee (UFC 216)
2. Seek out another boxing mega-fight
As impressive as McGregor looked in his one and only professional boxing match, the thought of him signing up for No.2 is slim to none. Mayweather provided an opportunity for massive financial gain. Additionally, it served as a platform for McGregor to grow his brand and introduce himself to a boxing community that knew little about him and his skillset, both as a fighter and promoter. There really was nothing for McGregor to lose from taking this fight. Having put forth an admirable performance, exceeding the expectations of everyone apart from his own, it really doesn’t make sense for him to seek out another dance in the squared circle. Sorry about your luck Paulie Malignaggi. And ANYONE who yammers on about wanting a rematch with Floyd, you’re dead to me.
This fight has given McGregor $100 million reasons to never FIGHT again. You listen to him talk following the fight and he is no dummy. He is a student of fighting, and of business. He knows what this fight has done for him, his brand, and the well-being of his family for generations to come. My gut tells me that he is not done with the fight game. Conor McGregor is a fighter and the rush brought on by the process of fighting will be too strong to walk away from while still in his prime. He has 2-3 more fights in the octagon before calling it a career.
No matter what McGregor decides to do, he has earned the respect of all fight fans. He has, and continues to take risks that separate him from any other fighter on the planet. And he backs all of them up with stellar performances. He was respectful and complimentary of Floyd, even in defeat. He brought out a version of Floyd Mayweather no one had seen in years. In his words, he made Floyd fight “like a Mexican”. Conor didn’t go to Las Vegas to dance.
In conclusion, I say “Thank you Conor” and if I may, for a moment, speak for all fight fans around the world, we collectively cannot wait to see where your historic ride takes us next.
But until then, enjoy your well earned vacation and well earned $$$.