Wednesday 22 January 2020

Conor McGregor may have lost but he won UFC respect in the world of boxing in Floyd Mayweather defeat

Conor McGregor stands in the ring after being defeated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. by TKO in the 10th round of their super welterweight boxing match on August 26, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Conor McGregor stands in the ring after being defeated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. by TKO in the 10th round of their super welterweight boxing match on August 26, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

James Edwards

Fighters often say that respect is won in combat and if he didn’t have it already, Conor McGregor should’ve earned the respect of everyone in the combat sports community last evening.

The UFC lightweight champion was the subject of some ridiculous criticism prior to last evening’s bout and for much of the build-up to the fight he was ridiculed as an unworthy opponent who was simply a part of Floyd Mayweather’s latest cash grab.

That was all quickly proven to be inaccurate last evening and the Irishman did himself, his country, and the sport of MMA proud.

Some seasoned writers in the boxing fraternity suggested that McGregor wouldn’t be able to lay a glove on Mayweather and that was proven to be an inaccurate very early in the fight. McGregor started at a very fast paced and he had success in rounds one to four taking the fight to Mayweather.

The Irishman landed some hooks and uppercuts during the first 12-minutes but Mayweather simply did what he’s done throughout his entire career, he downloaded the data, worked out his opponent, and then made his gameplan up on the fly and capitalised as the Irishman tired.

McGregor was disappointed that the fight was stopped when it was, but things only looked like they were going one way and the stoppage saved McGregor from taking any unnecessary damage. After the fight, it was revealed that in just nine and a half rounds, McGregor landed 111 strikes. In comparison, Canelo landed 117 and Manny Pacquiao landed just 81 strikes and both those fights went the full 12-rounds.

For a man that wasn’t supposed to land a glove on Mayweather, McGregor did incredibly well and speaking in the post-fight press conference, he appeared to be disappointed, but proud of his efforts.

There’s a few things to be learned from what transpired last night and one of the takeaways should be that the sport of MMA needs to be given more respect from some people in the boxing. Last evening proved that it is incorrect to write off McGregor’s chances based on the fact he’s a mixed martial artist by trade.

McGregor, for a decent part of the fight, was the one in ascendency and at times he caught Mayweather off-guard with some non-conventional striking patterns that the American had simply never seen or faced before.

Winning three to five rounds against Mayweather was always going to be a big achievement and it’s fair to say that the momentum of the bout only started to shift when McGregor started to fatigue.

Facts are facts though and while McGregor had his success early on, plenty of pundits correctly predicted that from round seven onwards Mayweather would start to fight more aggressively.

There’s going to be plenty to unpack in the comings days about this one fight, but one of the big take outs should be that a man from the world of MMA came in and landed more shots on Mayweather than some of the greatest boxing talents of our generation.

McGregor may not have been the man with his hand raised last evening but he left the ring proving to everyone that he deserved to be there.

Mayweather vs McGregor has been a crazy ride, but the Irishman's next greatest challenges lie ahead in MMA. Given he was in the building and then seen celebrating in Mayweather's locker room after the fight, a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz on December 30 has to be the front runner.

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