Simply put, the first three pay-per-views of 2017 were completely lackluster affairs. The shows featured duds such as Germaine de Randamie landing dirty shots against Holly Holm after the bell to win a UFC women’s featherweight belt she seems to have no desire to actually defend, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and challenger Stephen Thompson doing their best Dancing With The Stars impression, and the start-to-finish fiasco of UFC 210 last weekend. It’s rather apparent the UFC could use some star power to break out of its slump.
There’s just one problem: the UFC’s biggest star doesn’t appear eager to return to the Octagon anytime soon. In fact, it doesn’t seem like he’s ever going to come back. Sure, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor has been all over the sports-news world lately as he promotes his next fight. The problem is, McGregor’s next fight, if it actually happens, won’t be in the UFC.
Unless your head has been lodged in the sand for the last several months, you’ve probably noticed McGregor and undefeated boxing great Floyd Mayweather, Jr., have escalated their ongoing war of words and appear headed toward a showdown in a boxing match that no one really asked for and is little more than both a publicity stunt and an extension of UFC President Dana White’s inexplicable feud with boxing personalities such as Bob Arum.
When I first heard of the possibility of McGregor and Mayweather facing each other in a boxing match, I was part of the camp that believed it was a publicity stunt that would never happen. Furthermore, it seemed like it was just a power play by McGregor to receive more money and a bigger stake in the UFC — both of which he deserves, by the way, as the organization’s highest-drawing star.
When White offered Mayweather a purse of $25 million each to fight McGregor, it looked likeI a clever ploy by White to get Mayweather to walk away after such an “insulting” offer. Mayweather routinely took home much more money when he fought, so why would he accept such a lowball offer?
However, the drumbeat for a Mayweather/McGregor boxing match goes on. Even White himself has seemingly come around on the idea lately, telling anyone who will listen that a boxing match between the two will happen.
What does this mean for UFC fans who enjoy watching everything McGregor does leading up to and during a fight, when we see him in all his boastful, trash-talking, promotional glory before a fight and watch him knock out guys like José Aldo and Eddie Alvarez in the cage? Nothing good, probably. If the Mayweather/McGregor boxing match finally comes to fruition, it will probably be the most-watched combat-sports event in history.
It also goes without saying that both Mayweather and McGregor would receive a payout that could reach the hundreds of millions. In other words, McGregor would make more money in one boxing match than he will ever make in his UFC career. So why would he bother coming back?
Here’s a fun little fact about McGregor that you may not know: the Irishman has never actually defended a title in the UFC, despite winning belts in two different classes. While McGregor defeated Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight title in 2015, Aldo was still the reigning featherweight champ until he was knocked out by McGregor at UFC 194. So, technically, that was not a title defense for “The Notorious” one. For all of McGregor’s bluster about being the best fighter in the world, he doesn’t prioritize actually defending the titles he has won.
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, floated the possibility that McGregor would fight for the UFC later this year. I’m not convinced, especially if his fight with Mayweather actually ends up happening. Besides the fact it would happen before any UFC fight for McGregor, why would McGregor want to fight in the Octagon again if a fight with Mayweather would pay him enough to put his great-great-great-grandchildren through college?
For the record, I’m not advocating for the boxing match between McGregor and Mayweather to actually happen. While it would make tons of money and I am not fan of Mayweather as a human being, he is one of the greatest boxers of all time, if not the best. Mayweather would thoroughly embarrass McGregor in a boxing match and make both McGregor and the UFC look foolish. It would be a huge blow to both McGregor’s and White’s ego to have McGregor get outclassed in a boxing ring in front of millions of people.
However, a paycheck possibly worth hundreds of millions of dollars would soothe even the most battered ego. That’s why, if I’m a UFC fan, I’m not counting on “The Notorious” one coming back to the Octagon anytime soon, if he comes back at all.