On August 26, 2017 the world will be watching what is going to be one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history. Conor McGregor, the 29 year old charismatic, trash-talking, Irish MMA UFC championship fighter will be crossing over into the world of boxing to take on the undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at age 40, in what he claims will be the final fight of his career.
McGregor is the current lightweight champion in the UFC and fears no one. Mayweather, one of the greatest boxers of all time and a true artist of his craft is 49-0 in his professional fights, and it goes without saying that he is of equal confidence.
Conor McGregor Changing It All
Although we didn’t know it, the road towards the arrangement of this fight began on December 12, 2015 when McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo in round 1 of the featherweight championship bout. Aldo went down in 13 seconds, a new UFC record. Some fans may have been disappointed the fight ended before they could even settle into their seats, but it was a massive turn for McGregor’s career in UFC.
McGregor, in addition to being a tremendous fighter, has primarily distinguished himself by proving to be an exceptional trash talker; the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time.
He has consistently demonstrated an uncanny ability to get inside his opponent’s head as the fight is approaching. McGregor relentlessly taunts his opponents about how he will easily dispose of them and his tactics have worked quite admirably.
Having such a strong personality, McGregor is another athlete who makes himself easy to love or hate and doesn’t care which side you are on. One can certainly argue that trash talk is cheap because anybody can do it, but McGregor’s tactics have gone so far beyond his ability to also back up everything he says. He isn’t just talking trash for the sake of attention. It’s part of who he is. He’s taken it to another level. He’s made it into a device that is giving him the upper hand in his fights before they even started.
Numerous times we have seen McGregor tearing into his opponents verbally and no matter what they tried to portray, they were not comfortable with his constant belittlement. They felt pressure to respond. That they can’t let someone just talk to them in that way when they are about to fight.
It’s all a battle of the ego and McGregor may have a huge ego himself, but he has used his ego effectively by manhandling his opponent’s egos and using it against them. It’s been pretty special to watch because normally athletes who run their mouths tend to be uninteresting and unable to back up their talk.
McGregor has provided us with a different look and everybody has jumped on his bandwagon which is why we have this fight to begin with. It’s all about McGregor.
The way to prevent cocky trash talking from affecting you is to simply ignore it, because at the end of the day, this is only about the fight. If your opponent wants to run his mouth until the bell rings, just let him do it. Let him waste his own energy rather than let it distract you.
Ignoring McGregor is the one thing that could possibly shut him up or even hinder his confidence since that type of response would be so unfamiliar to him. However, none of his opponents have done this, so the power of his trash talking antics has lived on.
Every opponent has felt the need to try and clash with McGregor verbally and insult him right back. Perhaps they don’t know this is exactly what he wants. They don’t understand he is trying to expose any discomfort or insecurity they might be feeling because he has none. They don’t understand this is all gamesmanship to serve as a distraction.
Instead of seeing through the obviousness of it all and just going about their business like they always have, they play right into his hand. It’s like he’s controlling their mind and none of them know it. This is just one reason why he made it to the top and is still there.
The constant trash talk was what made his quick KO of Aldo so amazing. McGregor had been coming up the UFC ranks for a while but his popularity really began to escalate during the anticipation of the Aldo fight. He was getting a ton of attention with the trash talk. It was gripping to many of the fans and this was a fight that took about 2 years to finally happen.
Through all the trash talk, all the hype, all the confidence Jose Aldo tried to put up, the fight truly was over before it started. It didn’t matter that Aldo hadn’t lost a fight in 10 years. McGregor had already broken his spirit and 1-2-3 he delivered exactly what he said he would do. It showed everybody just how much he really knew what he was doing. As soon as he won we all knew the path of UFC had changed and we had us a new celebrity, one with an incredibly strong personality and will to compete.
Immediately after the knockout, McGregor jumped and sat on top of the fence and looked out to the crowd with an expression of such humbled satisfaction. All he wanted to do was show the world that he really was the best. He was looking forward to the fight so much and he won so fast it may have even surprised him. The look suggested, “I told you so,” but not in arrogance. He was just happy. Everyone got to see he wasn’t all talk. He knew what he was talking about. That he is the real deal on a whole new level. Consciously or otherwise, Aldo evidently knew it too. That’s why he went down in an instant.
Will This Apply to Floyd Mayweather?
Floyd Mayweather is unlike any opponent McGregor has ever faced. He is not a fellow MMA fighter of a comparable age. He is not unknown, to boxing fans or the general public alike. Anybody that is interested in sports knows who Floyd Mayweather is. He needs no introduction. He is the cream of the crop and is tied with the legendary boxer Rocker Marciano for number of wins (49) over the course of an undefeated career. This tells you everything that you need to know. It all begs the question, will the trash talk of McGregor be able to impact Mayweather the way it has for his other opponents?
McGregor may also be unlike anybody Mayweather has ever fought, but I wouldn’t think it’s going to matter much. Mayweather has nothing more to prove and also has a pretty big mouth himself. He may have the big ego that fits in to the center of McGregor’s trash talking crosshairs, but he is every bit as confident in himself as McGregor. He’s 40 years old and on top of the world. He’s been on top of the world. He’s got all the fame, all the money, and all the achievements an athlete could ever envision.
McGregor’s previous opponents were not quite of this same stature. How could someone who has succeeded to Mayweather’s level even be capable of being affected by trash talk? Maybe if his ego is that big? It’s not that he should dismiss McGregor as one must obviously respect their enemy if they have any hopes of defeating them, but there’s no reason to believe the shenanigans of a challenger should rattle him that much, if at all. Mayweather knows who he is and what he’s done so I don’t expect to the verbal jarring to do very much. Not to mention the simple fact Conor McGregor is not a boxer, he is a mixed martial artist.
The classic sucker move in sports betting is laying out big money on the favorite. Risking a lot to win a relatively little amount only to discover the odds were much closer than they perhaps appeared. Well, the favorite does win from time to time and if there’s ever a time to bet the farm on it, this could be it.
Mayweather opened at -2500 while it was +1100 to take McGregor. The odds on Mayweather winning have since continuously shrunk as he is now only around -700 with McGregor being around +500. As of July 18 Mayweather is now only -550 with McGregor at +375.
Mayweather is in the position he’s used to being in as the substantial favorite. McGregor has been the big favorite in his previous fights and is now in the unique position of being a significant underdog. Even with all the money that has come in on him, McGregor is still considered the long shot.
Why has so much money piled in on McGregor? Easy, the emotions of his supporters and those who can’t stand Mayweather. People have a tendency to bet on what they want to see and/or bet against what they don’t want to see. This fight combines both of these elements as people are not exactly enamored with Mayweather. There’s no question everybody respects him, but he isn’t particularly well liked.
He took a lot of criticism for waiting so long to fight Manny Pacquiao. Some people thought Mayweather was a coward believing he would not take a fight against anyone he thought had a shot at beating him. The truth was Mayweather was willing to fight him the whole time and it was Pacquiao turning down the fight because he didn’t want to accept Mayweather’s greedy 70%-30% payout proposal as opposed to the standard 60-40. Would Mayweather have backed out of the deal if Pacquiao called his bluff and accepted? We’ll never know, but we can’t just say Mayweather outwardly avoided fighting him because greedy or not he offered him a deal.
Pacquiao also recently just lost his WBO Welterweight title to Jeff Horn by decision in Australia. It was a bloodbath of a fight and a stunning upset. Many feel Pacquiao got robbed. Regardless, the heartfelt never say die Rocky like performance by Horn is continuing to inspire others to believe this is about to happen again.
That upset is certainly adding fuel to this fire but it really does not even matter because what it comes down to more than anything else is for so many fans the prospect of the MMA champ defeating the undefeated boxing champ of 21 years in his professional debut is too exciting to pass up. This is what fans want and that’s why the money keeps flying in on McGregor.
At the Westgate sportsbook in Las Vegas there is now a prop bet of +1000 that McGregor will win the fight in 4 rounds or less. If you are going to bet McGregor, that is probably a lot more worthwhile than taking him to win by decision. Mayweather is the master at scoring points while minimizing his risk of getting hit hard. There’s a reason he hasn’t knocked anyone out since 2011 and is still dominating his fights.
This could be one of the biggest tastes of reality fans will have experienced in quite some time. It has the potential to be some of the easiest money to make. If there is ever a time to lay out a ton of money on the favorite, now would be it. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Mayweather does his thing and wins the fight in his traditional uneventful approach. When this fight is over, everybody might be saying to each other it was all so predictable in hindsight because how does the undefeated champ lose to somebody that’s never had a professional boxing fight.
If Lebron James decided to step into the batter’s box against Clayton Kershaw, baseball’s most dominant pitcher the last number of years, would you bet on him to hit a home run? How about getting a hit of any kind? How about making contact at all? It’s just not that easy to do something you’ve never done before and then outdo the guy who is the best at it.
This analogy isn’t quite symmetrical with what McGregor is doing since he is still going to be in a fight but it is comparing apples and oranges. Mayweather has been the best for over 20 years. If he didn’t lose to other boxers who have been training for years, why would he lose to somebody making their boxing debut? This scenario almost sounds too good to be true. If something sounds good to be true, the key word is it usually is but this is lining up to be a HUGE exception.
Conor McGregor has done many things magnificently. He marketed himself well and made a ton of money. He has broken down opponents with his trash talk and stood face to face with adversity. When he lost his first ever UFC bout to Nate Diaz on March 5, 2016 via a round 2 submission, he acknowledged his defeat and was not deterred by it. He rebounded by defeating Diaz later that year on August 20th by judge’s decision.
He’s nearly done it all and he still hasn’t turned 30. However, one thing he hasn’t done is compete in professional boxing and now he’s leading off his boxing career by stepping into the ring with one of the all the time greats. It might be the biggest upset in sports history if he wins but it more than likely has disaster written all over it.