Worlds collided on Saturday, August 26 when boxing legend Floyd Mayweather stepped into the ring against UFC star Conor McGregor. The much hyped fight took place in Las Vegas, and was Mayweather’s first fight in nearly two years.
But ring rust was not a factor for Floyd, as he defeated McGregor by TKO in round 10 of the 12 round fight. Though it was an ending that many had predicted, no one could have predicted the performance that McGregor gave in hostile territory.
Conor was perhaps out of his element, yet that was not apparent very early on.
The Notorious one was more than composed; he was comfortable. He never rushed, he never ran, and he never backed down. McGregor showed an abundance of heart in the first three rounds, as he stood toe-to-toe with Mayweather and did not give an inch.
“Money” Mayweather came out defensively, as expected. He did not change his style to suit his opponent, but instead chose to play the waiting game. McGregor got his shots in, looked impressive while doing it, and never lost his form.
But as McGregor gained the respect of the crowd, Mayweather began to find his spots.
The undefeated Mayweather began feeding into McGregor, causing Floyd to make mistakes. McGregor was called down by referee Robert Byrd several times during the opening rounds for hitting Mayweather on the back of his neck. Rather than get rattled by the shots, Mayweather instead began turning into McGregor, initiating contact from behind.
McGregor was forced to separate when that happened of course, leading to a loss of momentum. But McGregor’s game plan had nothing to do with working the body, or pacing himself and wearing Mayweather down.
McGregor was looking for the knockout punch from the moment the opening bell rang, which may have ultimately been his downfall.
Of course in hindsight, it may have been the best move for him. McGregor is not a professional boxer, so he does not have a boxer’s instincts. McGregor predicted he would take Mayweather down inside four rounds, so he obviously believed he could deliver a knockout blow.
But no matter how many times he created distance and tried to measure up his opponent for one last big punch, Mayweather found a way out of it. Mayweather took some shots, yet maintained. The two even exchanged smiles during the fight, signaling to each other that there was no doubt as to who would win.
However Mayweather’s smile came from a much more confident place. By round eight, McGregor began showing signs of fatigue and that’s when Mayweather moved in.
This was the point that many felt would eventually come during this fight, and indeed it did. McGregor’s longest fight in the Octagon to date was 25 minutes, a number that Mayweather’s camp was keenly aware of. So as McGregor slowed, Mayweather sped up. Boxing announcers Mauro Ranallo and Al Bernstein noticed the lag in McGregor’s game, as the fans did watching live.
In the end, he just did not have enough left in the tank to keep going. His critics may have been right about the outcome, but they could not have been more wrong when it came to his ability.
McGregor impressed on every level during this fight. Not only was he never intimidated, he was also not a pushover. He made Mayweather earn this win, and he surely changed opinions in the process. Though it’s unclear what his next move will be, it’s logical to assume that if he wanted to focus on boxing full-time, he could become a very proficient pugilist.
It’s not often that a champion from one combat sport can make a successful transition to another combat sport. The training may be similar, but it’s often a much different environment when the match begins. CM Punk discovered that fact at UFC 203 in 2016 when he lost in the Octagon to Mickey Gall. Though WWE is indeed a very demanding sport and requires intense physicality, that background did not successfully translate for The Second City Saint.
To Punk’s credit however, he did train for that first fight and did as much as he could to prepare for a world he was not accustomed to. He reportedly wants another UFC fight soon, though he doesn't necessarily need to do it. Fans respect him for having the heart to compete, and the same is surely now being said of McGregor.
But McGregor did much more than last a few minutes; he nearly went the distance. He was just short of making history and had fatigue not been a factor, the outcome could have been very different indeed. Mayweather had to defend his sport, his world, from the outsider; that’s exactly what he did.
Mayweather shut down a man that had no business stepping into the boxing ring. But that man believed in himself when others didn’t. That man stared adversity right in the eye, and never blinked. McGregor has his payday, just as Mayweather does, but McGregor also has respect. This fight could have irreparably damaged McGregor, but it’s done the exact opposite.
Even Mayweather was forced to admit that McGregor was one hell of a champion. It’s safe to say that many UFC, as well as many boxing fans, are now in full agreement on that statement as well.