Monday 16 September 2019

Comment: Mayweather v McGregor II makes no sense but money talks and people will want to see Floyd beaten up at last

Floyd Mayweather Jnr v Conor McGregor – T-Mobile Arena
Floyd Mayweather Jnr v Conor McGregor – T-Mobile Arena
Conor McGregor. Photo: Sportsfile

Gareth A Davies

Many are the voices saying that the cage should not be the stage for a second coming of a Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor superfight. They are right, of course. In athletic terms, a mixed martial arts fight should never be entertained. It's farcical.

Yet we are in the age of clickbait and a neck-craning public hungry for online and televised sports entertainment. And that means one thing: we are crawling towards the contest being announced between the two biggest-earning names in combat sports, this time in a UFC Octagon.

The rematch is gathering steam with every Instagram video post from 'Money' Mayweather, and the replies from the irascible McGregor. Sad as it is, if Mayweather was an overwhelming favourite to claim the first fight between them in a boxing ring, it will be nigh-on impossible for the American bad boy of boxing - retired (supposedly) with a record of 50-0 - to overhaul McGregor when elbows, knees, kicks and fists, with 4oz gloves, come into play.

The soundings are that it is likely to take place later this summer. When the boxing match was first mooted between the two infamous sports stars just over two years ago, the derision for it actually happening was deafening.

Yet look what transpired: after a global media tour - well, actually three countries and four cities, Los Angeles, Toronto, New York and London, and a cacophony of thuggish and distasteful pronouncements - the world tuned in to witness the second richest fight in combat sports history, grossing close to 600 million US dollars.

Only one other event, Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino Congressman and boxer, saw the Las Vegas tills ring in more of the bundles of green ones.

Floyd Mayweather Jr celebrates following his victory against Conor McGregor last year. Photo: Sportsfile
Floyd Mayweather Jr celebrates following his victory against Conor McGregor last year. Photo: Sportsfile

The second instalment is fast growing in legs. Against the odds.

The big guns in the mixed martial arts world - the UFC and Bellator - might have their heavyweights writ large at present.

Bellator, for example, owned by media giants VIACOM, has an eight-man tournament running throughout this year, and indeed, the No 1 seed, Matt Mitrione, a former NFL player, meets 'Big Country' Roy Nelson, a popular figure with the everyman with his beard and belly, in Connecticut tonight in a much-anticipated rematch. The UFC, meanwhile, have been trumpeting the success of Stipe Miocic, their heavyweight champion, a former College wrestler, Golden Boxing champion and a man who could have had a career in baseball.

Yet it is these two smaller men who have the market at their mercy.

As in boxing, the heavyweights really ought to be the blue riband earners in mixed martial arts. And yet the fascination will continue for the Mayweather-McGregor rivalry, for two reasons: a rematch - in MMA - is still potentially the richest fight on earth, and money talks, and millions will tune in to see Mayweather - finally - beaten up.

McGregor could be keen for another payday, having been on sabbatical since earning more than $100 million for his tenth-round defeat to Mayweather under the lights last August. Mayweather's pot for the night's entertainment was reportedly $240 million.

The second point here is that it is the ideal fight for the UFC to tempt McGregor back. McGregor has not exactly shown any urgency in wanting to return to the Octagon and defend his UFC lightweight title, won in November 2016, his last MMA fight. If the Dubliner is holding out for yet another big pay cheque, then an offer of this magnitude is sure to get his attention.

The way of the world now is all about 'the sell'. Two weeks ago, two 'Gamers' - not fighters - drew 20 million viewers on YouTube when they fought out their rivalry. The derision being meted out now about the second meeting is huge.

Yet watch the numbers grow, the dollars roll in, and media members fight for attendance themselves when part two of the fighting freak show is eventually announced.

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