Freelance: Mayweather-McGregor— Who Would Win a Fight in the Octagon?

“Notorious” Conor McGregor vs. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. in a boxing was supposed to be cross-over fantasy match-making and that was it. Now, after more than two years, something that was never supposed to happen is happening. At this moment (June 23) the super-fight is booked for August 26.

In the court of public opinion, this is a pretty open-and-shut case: whether or not the fight goes the distance (because Mayweather hasn’t finished a fight in six years) or he finishes the boxing rookie in the opening rounds, possibly the first in the eyes of some combat sports fans, a Mayweather victory is next to a sure thing to bet on.

As far as the upcoming boxing bout goes, Bovada has Mayweather as a -550 favorite with McGregor a +375 underdog. However, there is a currently open prop line bet on asking fans/bettors if they think a rematch will occur in McGregor’s sport of mixed martial arts by 2018. Those odds heavily favor a “No” (-5000) while a “Yes” is a massive underdog (+900.)

Assuming that Mayweather would dare to do the same as McGregor and take him on in his own sport to prove that he’s the best combat sports athlete to walk the earth and it would then be sanctioned (most likely by the Nevada State Athletic Commission or NSAC,) let’s breakdown a proposed UFC debut for Mayweather against McGregor.

NSAC Sanctioning Note: The Mayweather-McGregor showdown is happening in a boxing ring after NSAC sanctioning due to McGregor’s striking experience in MMA (he’s 21-3 overall, 9-1 in the UFC.) The vast majority of his wins (18 fights or 86 percent) have come from throwing hands and it was also sanctioned because this won’t be a multi-discipline contest.

Just like with Mayweather in boxing, the assumption by many is that in an MMA bout McGregor would destroy him. To be fair that’s mostly correct. However, as the figures in the note above show, McGregor has almost exclusively been an MMA striker (concerning just the hands, that is still Mayweather’s metaphorical playground.) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has only gotten him a single victory in his MMA career while all three of his defeats came by way of submission.

McGregor’s Win Option #1: Make it Nearly Impossible for Mayweather to Stand Up

The answer in the stand-up department must come from a page out of former UFC featherweight (145-pound) champion and former McGregor rival Jose Aldo’s playbook: crippling leg kicks. Mayweather can’t implement his usual game plan of standing and striking if he can’t stand.

McGregor would need to use kicks make the boxer quit on the stool like Roberto “Hands of Stone Duran” in his famous “No Mas” fight against “Sugar” Ray Leonard.

Mayweather’s Win Option: So, You Can Box. That Don’t Impress Me Much.

If he were to go for a takedown and it does get avoided by Mayweather or is a little sloppy when his legs are healthy, he could get caught with an uppercut (or really any punch in Mayweather’s arsenal that took just shy of two decades as a pro to develop not including his highly decorated amatuer career.) Mayweather should be less likely to defend against takedowns no matter how hard he wants to with damaged lower limbs.

Back to the Kicking

Mayweather is so paranoid about leg kicks in his boxing bout with McGregor that a penalty for such a foul has already been a topic of discussion (as if McGregor has ever had a history of being a dirty fighter or that he doesn’t understand that boxing and kickboxing are different.)

UFC broadcaster Joe Rogan thinks that a kick against Mayweather would be a historic moment though.

“[If McGregor kicked Mayweather], that would be f--ked up. There's probably some stipulations in the contract that say, 'You can't get him in an armbar or choke him.' [But] could you imagine? He would be a goddamn folk hero. If they got in close and Floyd was shucking and juking on the outside and he threw a jab to cover up a left high kick and that left high kick necks him? Just clang! And you see Floyd go limp—and he would go limp. He's never been high kicked like that. Jesus, that would be crazy.

Would it be worth it? It would, but it would f**k everything up because no one would ever trust another fighter from MMA to ever fight a boxer in a boxing match again.”

As mentioned before that tactic would be available to him in the hybrid sport. UFC President Dana White has already confirmed to multiple outlets that a battle in court would await McGregor after the fact if he does that in a boxing ring.

“That [kicking] will not happen; it's in the contract. This is a boxing match under the Nevada commission under the rules of boxing. We talk about a guy of Floyd Mayweather's value in the sport—the lawsuit if that ever happened...Conor loves money, and he would lose a lot of money if that happened.”

McGregor’s Win Option #2: Enter Dillon Danis and the Ground Game

Another option for McGregor in an MMA fight would be something that was already mentioned above: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Just like how “Mystic Mac” will not have enough time to have even half the boxing skill that Mayweather does whether he’s been training since they started jawing two years ago or if he’s been training for two months (unlikely), Mayweather more than likely wouldn’t be able to retain much knowledge of the discipline.

BJJ hasn’t really served McGregor well in his career but he’s had to train for it for years to defend against his opponents. McGregor’s Jiu-Jitsu coach and friend Dillon Danis is a UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro Champion at the brown belt ranking and a multiple-time IBJJF champion as both a brown belt and the highest ranking of black belt (degree of black belt/dan unknown.)

Danis dedicated himself to becoming a professional in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu at just 19 years of age, training under one of the most respected figures in the sport in the form of one Marcelo Garcia.

McGregor may not know as much as his coach but even basic stuff should work against Mayweather. 30 percent of Danis’ wins have come through his favorite position (the kneebar.) Mayweather has never had to defend against a kneebar, toehold or any of the variety of chokes found in Jiu-Jitsu in his life. You get the idea…

The native of Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland has better BJJ skills than the typical average Joes (like MMA writers that might just venture into a gym off the street on a random weekday) and so could turn an MMA bout against Mayweather into a flashback to the UFC 1 fight between eventual winner Royce Gracie and Art “One Glove” Jimmerson (look it up.)

McGregor’s Win Option #3: A Striking “Plan B”

The other route that McGregor could take if he chooses that he wants to embarrass the former “Pretty Boy” would be to take the approach of former UFC light heavyweight (205-pound) champion, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy/ The People’s Champion” Tito Ortiz.

This a brutal plan of attack originally made famous by the first-ever UFC heavyweight (265-pound) champion Mark “The Hammer” Coleman: Ground ‘n’ Pound.

Think about it, Mayweather isn’t used to throwing or defending against any type of kick (leg, thigh, body, or high/head kick) and he also would be a novice when it comes to do the same against elbow attacks, unless he has rare “Kimbo Slice”-style street fighting videos making their rounds on the internet.

It is also incredibly rare for even veteran MMA fighters to utilize a “12 o'clock-to-6 o’clock”/ upward elbow (a downward or “12-to 6” elbow is a foul) which Mayweather would probably use due to ignorance of the ways to escape from bottom while an opponent is in the full-mount position.

This is assuming he wouldn’t turn over to his stomach and give the “Champ Champ” and easy rear-naked choke or get up but surrender his neck for a guillotine choke.

McGregor’s Win Option #4: Inadvertent Injury/ Mayweather’s Evasive Style

Even as a main event or title fight, MMA fights (specifically those under the world leader in MMA) are only five rounds, a total of just 25 five minutes. McGregor is used to fighting within the confines of that time limit.

While Mayweather would have no problem with that (full-length, 12-round boxing fights last 36 minutes) having less time to work would give Mayweather less time to use his evasive/clinch-fighting style of boxing, which could put him down on the judges scorecards due to lack of action.

MMA also has a rule against timidity which rarely comes up in contest but it can get a combatant more than a warning to engage. The rule could possibly result in a disqualification.

Mayweather would also be forced to compete in just four-ounce gloves (resulting in far less padding compared to boxing gloves that can weigh up to 16 ounces. He will be fighting McGregor using 10-ounce gloves when the two meet in the ring in August.) that barely cover his knuckles.

While hands are wrapped like in boxing underneath the lighter gloves, this can lead to a greater likelihood of a fighter breaking a hand, an issue for the native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more about Mayweather’s injury troubles here.

Neither outcome would be one that the fighters or fans would want, but that could also set up some kind of third fight to create possibly the greatest-selling trilogy in the entire history of face-punching regardless of the speciality.

McGregor’s Win Option #5: Using the Un-Unified “Unified Rules of MMA”

2017 has been a year of change. The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) updated the original Unified Rules of MMA that were initially created in 2001 (the year that Zuffa, LLC and Dana White entered the picture and modernized the UFC, turning it from a spectacle into a true sport.)

The changes include an updated definition of a ground fighter. A fighter with only one hand down on the canvas is no longer considered down, which eliminates the ability for some to “play the game” and draw a foul from their opponent, who more often than not, tends to be ahead in the fight when those situations occur.

The ABC can only recommend these changes to the 50 U.S. state or various national athletic commissions but not make those changes mandatory, thereby meaning the unified rules are just a the above heading suggests, creating some confusion. The NSAC has accepted these changes.

If Mayweather is in the heat of the moment in a fight with McGregor and forgets that he can’t evade the transcendent star by playing that game, a head kick will eventually come his way.

The Real Question to Ask: Can This Be Fight Anything More Than a Fantasy?

No. This fight will not be sanctioned for the very reason that the Mayweather-McGregor fight is a boxing match. Again, it is just one discipline and the inexperienced challenger and those supporting him could at least make some sort of case (and they did so successfully.)

McGregor is not some kind of infant who is starting from scratch as the date of this fight gets closer and closer, despite what some boxing-specific media outlets and their reports would lead casual fans to believe.

While Mayweather has had years to fine-tune what he does, there would just be too many pieces to the puzzle for him to figure out in an adequate amount of time for the fight to make the little sense that it could.

A big lesson that fans learn when educating themselves is to never say never. The proof of that is in Bellator MMA’s Kimbo Slice-”Dada 5000” clash in which Dhafir “Dada 5000” Harris later admitted to going into cardiac arrest twice during the bout.

Mayweather is already 40 years old and came out of retirement exclusively to face McGregor on his own terms in a money-making one off.