It’s been an explosive road but UFC’s undisputed king Conor McGregor is focused as his quest for combat superstardom is reaching that all important pivotal juncture.
The eagerly anticipated bout against Floyd Mayweather, arguably the greatest boxer to ever step foot in the squared circle is just 9 days away. With fans already heavily invested, the T-mobile arena in Las Vegas could well be the stage for a sporting upset of epic proportions.
With the 8 ounce gloves being made official at a Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) meeting on Wednesday, many feel McGregor now holds the advantage ahead of what will undoubtedly be the most lucrative fight of all time.
Also at the meeting the referee and judges were made official for the bout. Hall of Famer ref, Robert Byrd will take charge with Burt Clements, Dave Moretti and Guido Cavalleri being the judges.
Many thought this match against Mayweather was a pipe-dream. A pipe-dream that wouldn’t come to fruition for McGregor. But here we are with a little over a week left as McGregor, UFC’s poster boy goes up against one of the best defensive boxers the world has ever seen. And one thing is for sure, he wants to ‘shock the whole god damn world’ on August 26.
A lad from Crumlin is on the verge of creating sporting history
McGregor’s rise through UFC was remarkable in itself. But, no-one expected him to come face-to-face with the calibre of fighter like Mayweather at the age of 28. But with the Irishman set to pocket over $100m from this fight, everything is seemingly all going according to plan.
McGregor willed this into existence and now he is set to reap the rewards. McGregor has a canny knack of making the impossible possible, and credit must go to where credit is due because making this fight happen has been largely down to McGregor’s own doing. And with the bout against ‘Money’ Mayweather a little over a week away, McGregor is on the cusp of global superstardom.
Whatever your opinion is on this fight, and there have been plenty of them out in the public domain. Avid boxing and UFC fans, and more importantly well respected pundits and commentators on both sides are all heavily invested in this fight whether they like it or not. The clock is ticking down to what will be the most lucrative combat bout the world has seen, and Mayweather-McGregor has everyone talking.
McGregor’s previous high profile fights have always created buzz bordering on hysteria. But, this feels entirely different. You could say this is all a bit surreal. The buzz and media frenzy over this contest is on another scale entirely.
And as the fight draws closer, the buzz has got bigger and a whole lot louder. But not entirely for the right reasons.
But the build up begs one important question: Is this one mission impossible too far for ‘Mystic Mac’?
8 or 10 ounce it didn’t really matter for Conor. Either way ‘The Notorious One’ only envisages a knockout
Prior to the NSAC’s ruling, the 28-year-old wasn’t too fussed if they would be wearing 8 or 10 ounce gloves. In his mind it didn’t matter because he is only thinking about one route to victory and that’s by knockout.
The back and forth from both fighters regarding the choice of gloves has again got people invested after what was a fascinating world tour. But talk hasn’t dissipated one bit. In fact after the recent media day workouts, the buzz has reached fever pitch once again.
There were plenty of interesting angles to come out of both fighters’ media scrums recently, but one of the most intriguing and most important subtext was what ounce glove the pair will use.Embed from Getty Images
Mayweather ignited the debate over the gloves when negotiations about the fight first took place. It was to be 10 ounce gloves. No Mexican made gloves. No gloves which were made out of horse hair, the list went on. But, now after all the speculation the gloves will indeed be 8 ounces. A move which to some will favour the hard-hitting UFC Lightweight champion.
“I’m going to knock him out bad, he’s too small. I know he’s fast and he’s got good reflexes, I know he’s experienced. I don’t care. I hit you, you fall,” was McGregor’s response when the issue of glove size came up.
“He will be unconscious. If we go 8 ounces which we are very close to I believe, he will be unconscious inside two rounds, really one round only for the 10 second count I will give him surviving into the second. But if it’s not and its 10 ounce its maybe four rounds but under four rounds he is certainly unconscious,” continued McGregor.
With the change in glove weight, who does it favour more?
On the evidence of previous fights you would say it favours McGregor. From his 21 MMA fights, McGregor has won 18 of them by knockout. And some of the most devastating displays of power and precision have all been fairly recently. Just ask Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez…
As for Mayweather his boxing record speaks for itself. You don’t get to 49-0 and be considered as novice or someone who was lucky inside the ring. Mayweather has achieved it all in the sport.
But one thing that is against the 40-year-old is that he is not known for his knockout power. Floyd might have knocked out 26 opponents during his career, but they were all in the infancy stage of his boxing adventure. The most recent KO came back in 2011 when he floored Victor Ortiz.
Regardless of what gloves the pair will wear, the Irishman is supremely confident that Mayweather will be unconscious in the middle of the squared circle come August 26.
Alleged racist remarks and the Paulie Malignaggi sparring drama has added yet more fuel to the fire
There’s a train of thought from some that any publicity is good publicity in the world of sports. And to an extent that could be the case.
But McGregor’s use of words has again come into question during this build-up. On the world tour, Mayweather accused his Irish counterpart of calling him a ‘monkey’ something McGregor absolutely denies.
And in an interview with ESPN last Wednesday, Floyd said: “I just didn’t like when he called us monkeys. I think that was totally disrespect. … He called us monkeys. I didn’t like it. It didn’t push a button to make me jump out of my character and go crazy, but I didn’t like it.”
McGregor addressed the racist accusations whilst speaking with renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, saying: “First of all, never once in my life have I labelled him or any African American a monkey or anyone. I would not disrespect someone’s race like that and his people know that and you know what he knows that too.”
He continued to say: “If I was to label him as any other animal I would label him as a rat. I wouldn’t label him as a great ape, he is a f**king rat and a weasel. Because that’s what a rat does, manipulates words and creates something that’s not there.”Embed from Getty Images
Whether McGregor coined the term ‘monkey’ in reference to Mayweather and his heritage it has added that extra dimension to the fight – but maybe not in the way both fighters would have wanted.
Let’s not forget, it’s not the first time in a build up to a big fight that McGregor has been accused of race baiting or racism.
Prior to UFC 196 when Rafael dos Anjos pulled out of his bout against the Irishman with a broken foot, the American Nate Diaz came in as a late replacement. In the pre-fight press conference McGregor called Diaz a ‘cholo gangster from the hood’ which certainly raised a few eyebrows.
The furore over that comment seemed to die down fairly quickly and the pair put on two memorable fights further down the line.
McGregor said he is not a racist and you have to take his word for it – but it’s certainly added an extra layer of complexity to this fight.
Social media blew up when the news that former two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi left McGregor’s training camp after just two sparring sessions. The former IBF junior welterweight and WBA welterweight champion claimed the Notorious One ‘set him up’ and had ‘dark intentions.’
One bone of contention from both sides was whether there was a push or a knockdown from McGregor in their second spar – Malignaggi claimed it was a push. McGregor’s camp claimed it was a legitimate knockdown.
McGregor’s never one to miss a beat when it comes causing a stir. We have seen it throughout his career and during his media day workout his camp and most notably UFC President Dana White released the footage which people had been begging to see.
And to make matters worse, McGregor didn’t hold back on what he thought of the retired Malignaggi: “We were worried about him. We thought the worse was happening, he was certainly concussed badly and he just got out of there and started running. He got his ass whooped, his pride dented and then he wanted a way out.”
If Conor does the unthinkable on August 26, then the ‘double champ’ will be a global superstar
When researching for this piece, one phrase that often came to mind was McGregor’s entertaining post-fight Octagon interview after his historic win at Madison Square Garden at UFC 205.
After blitzing Alvarez inside two rounds, the confident 28-year-old said these famous words which have become part of pop culture ever since: “I’ve spent a lot of time ridiculing people, but I’d like to take this chance to apologise to absolutely nobody, the double champ does what the f**k he wants.”
Now, how does this tie into Mayweather-McGregor?
In my mind it ties in perfectly. If McGregor does indeed do the unthinkable on August 26, he won’t win a belt. But a victory of this magnitude will reverberate around the entire sporting world, that is guaranteed. In turn it would put McGregor on a pedestal unlike no other sports star in the world today.
And after, if McGregor does topples the great Mayweather – who’s the tell the Irishman what he has to do next in a sporting context?
If McGregor wins on August 26, he will hold the keys. He will dictate to the UFC or whoever for that matter what he wants to do next in the world of combat sports.
He might decide to come back and defend the lightweight belt. Or he might feel a boxing match against Malignaggi or any other boxer he fancies is the next step, either way McGregor will hold the key to the next step of his career if he wins.
So that famous phase does ring true. If McGregor wins he could indeed do whatever he pleases.
Image Credits – Getty Images – Ethan Miller, Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC, UFC & Isaac Brekken
Video Credit – FightHype