Is There a Possibility of Floyd Mayweather Fighting MMA?

By Kent Mullins
Published on February 19, 2018
Floyd Mayweather by an MMA Ring

Can you believe we are having this conversation again?!

It’s been almost six months since Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. faced off in the spectacle of all spectacles, and we are beginning to hear rumblings that the two could be interested in doing it again. This time, however, the fight will have to take place in a UFC octagon. And that’s the part that makes this whole thing fascinating.

When these two fought back in August, it was McGregor that was willing to leave his comfort zone and ruleset behind, engaging boxing’s best in his ring, under boxing’s restrictive rules. Moving the fight to the cage would mean Mayweather would have to be able to cope with takedowns, kicks, knees, and elbows, a daunting task for a 40-year old pugilist.

If this fight is made, it won’t be the first time a boxing great attempted to make the transition. In 2010, James Toney accepted a bout against Randy Couture at UFC 118. Toney, whose boxing style was similar to Mayweather’s with his shoulder rolling and counter punching, assumed he would be able to keep the fight standing, where his lifetime of boxing skills would lead him to an easy win.

It only took a few seconds before Toney realized just how different the two sports are in reality. Couture immediately shot in for a low takedown, from which the boxer had no defense. Once on the ground, James Toney’s inexperience was glaring. He could not improve his position or defend himself and tapped out just after the really in the first round.  The boxing legend never landed a single punch.

The question going into a possible Mayweather vs. McGregor II would be, how would this fight be any different than Toney vs. Couture? In the past, I believe you could sell the public on the potential of Floyd’s boxing in carrying him to the win, but fans are more educated these days. In order to grab the public’s attention and make the fans believe in Mayweather’s chances the way they believed in Conor’s, there will need to be modified rules.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that if we are starting to hear about this possibility from the main players involved, it’s definitely being worked on. There is so much money at stake, and the UFC so desperately needs the attention, and for Conor to get back into the cage, I have to believe they’ll do anything to make it happen. Let’s look at why this historic event is being talked about, and why it will or will not come to fruition.

What’s Being Said?

The Floyd Mayweather / Boxing World

If there’s one thing Floyd Mayweather Jr. knows how to do (other than box), it’s getting people talking. The 50-0 all-time-great pugilist has been painting his masterpiece recently, using Instagram to stoke the flames and increase the hype. First, he posted a couple of videos like this from inside an MMA cage

Come at the king, you best not miss…

A post shared by Floyd Mayweather (@floydmayweather) on

He then followed the videos up with this photoshopped picture of Money competing in the cage:

Billion Dollar Man

A post shared by Floyd Mayweather (@floydmayweather) on

In addition to his teases, here are some quotes that make this follow-up super fight seem like a realistic possibility:

  • Mayweather: “Exactly what I said is this: If I could make over a billion dollars before, I could do it again. If I chose to get in the UFC and fight three fights or fight four fights and then fight Conor McGregor, I could make a billion dollars. Which I can. I could do it in three fights or even four fights — I could make a billion dollars if I choose to get in the Octagon and fight.”
  • Robert Garcia, a professional boxing trainer, added, “I said it for years ago that Mayweather is going to end up fighting in the cage, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does. I heard they made him a huge offer. So if the money’s right. Mayweather will do it.”
  • Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza added, “It will be a topic of conversation… Nobody thought that Mayweather vs. McGregor was a realistic thing, so I’ve learned not to question what Floyd is capable of pulling it off.”
  • Also from Espinoza, “There’s a chance. Whatever he puts his mind to, he sort of wills it to happen. He willed the McGregor fight into happening. If he sets his mind to it, it will happen.”

Conor McGregor

In response to the rumors of a UFC offer and Mayweather’s teasing, Conor McGregor has let his opinion on the matter be known as well. Here are a few of his quotes:

  • “I’d do as I please against him inside the Octagon. But if he does do it – I know he’s flirting with it – I would have respect for him. I think he would get his earned respect.”
  • “If it is (all talk), it will follow him for the rest of his days that he did not do it.”
  • “I said I would (fight him in boxing), I stepped up, and I did it.

McGregor, who is currently weighing his options and looking for his next fight would undoubtedly drop everything for another bout with the “Moneyweight Champ.” Risking a loss to either Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov, the two top 155-pound challengers, would make both the Mayweather rematch and the third Nate Diaz fight less marketable. The timing of this Floyd bout is perfect for maximizing his finances, something that should appeal to Conor’s sensibilities.

Dana White

As the whispers regarding this rematch have grown louder, the outspoken CEO of the UFC, Dana White, has shared his two-cents as well. The promotor has admittedly approached the Mayweather team with an offer that has piqued the boxer’s interest. Here’s what Dana is saying publicly:

  • “There was no way I thought that fight was going to happen, but when you sit down with a smart guy like Al Haymon (Mayweather’s adviser), a very intelligent guy, anything is possible.”
  • “Obviously, the only way making that fight again makes any sense is if he comes over to the Octagon. We went over and boxed him, the UFC and Conor McGregor. And now it’s time for him to reciprocate and come fight in the Octagon.”
  • “Floyd said leading up to the fight with Conor that he would do both. So we’ll see what happens.”
  • On his popular podcast, Joe Rogan shared the following exchange: “This is one thing I can tell you. Dana told me that Floyd wants to make a deal in the UFC, legitimately.

“I texted him, I go ‘is Floyd really talking about fighting in MMA?'”He goes ‘Yeah, he’s f—— crazy, I told him he’d get killed, but he’s still talking about it.'”

So as you can see from the recent comments made about the contest, both sides are interested in trying to make this happen. Once the money is all worked out, there will be a few more obstacles, however, that may determine whether or not this bout comes to pass. Because while an MMA-fighter moving over to boxing is at a disadvantage, a boxer moving into the Octagon is in real danger.

Why this Fight Makes Sense

Money!

The main reason this matchup was ever discussed in the first place is money! That’s the core motivation behind everything that happens in the fight game, after all. The fact of the matter is that there are no two names in combat sports that can generate the hype and attention that McGregor and Mayweather can.

The first fight sold 4.3-million pay-per-views and generated over $600-million, which meant nine-figure paydays for both men. If there’s any chance of duplicating that payday, everyone involved is going do whatever it takes to make it happen. For the UFC, this could mean the most massive event in promotion history during a time that they are hurting for mainstream stars.

In Floyd’s quotes, he has mentioned that he is willing to take on this new venture as long as the money is right, which the UFC seems adamant about working out. If this fight doesn’t end up happening, it won’t be because it wouldn’t be profitable. Everyone involved stands to make a fortune.

This fight depends on how far Floyd is willing to go for another massive paycheck. Is he willing to lose for the first time as a professional fighter? Is he prepared to make another $300-million if it means getting kicked and having to deal with ground-and-pound? The money will be there if his ego will let him grab it.

Change Perceptions about Mayweather

Another reason entering the cage as an underdog may be worth attempting for Floyd is that it could change the public’s perspective of him considerably. As it stands, “Money” Mayweather’s public persona is built on braggadocio and flaunting his money. He is also known for picking his opponents carefully and protecting his undefeated record by not accepting difficult challenges. His opponents are always young and just before their prime, older and have lost a step, or utterly inexperienced as we saw with Conor.

Leaving the comfortable confines of the boxing ring to take on a challenge in the Octagon would be an eye-opening decision from the boxing legend.

For the first time in his life he’d be a tremendous underdog, in fact, the sportsbooks already have him at +550. I believe undertaking such an enormous challenge would change some opinions about his character.

Whatever Mayweather chooses to do next, it is clear that his days of generating enormous income through fighting are over or coming to an end. Perhaps increasing his popularity in the public zeitgeist by attempting a UFC run, against all odds is the smart move long term. As the years go by and the memory of his boxing dominance fades, he’ll want to be more publicly loved in order to receive additional endorsements and media deals in the future. This fight could be a big step in the right direction.

The UFC Needs Marquee Events

For the UFC, this matchup needs to take place for the following reasons:

  • They lost their top draw, Ronda Rousey, to the WWE.
  • Jon Jones and Anderson Silva are both suspended, possibly for good.
  • Georges St-Pierre, another of their top PPV salesmen, just recently came back and isn’t back for long.
  • Conor McGregor doesn’t want to fight for typical MMA fighter pay after experiencing mega-fight money.

So as you can see, the UFC doesn’t have many options at the moment for those colossal mainstream events. They will be able to market GSP for a bit longer, but he has already vacated the belt he won on his return bout and is looking for money fights. He may have two more matches in him before retiring again.

Conor McGregor is the UFC’s biggest star, but they’ve struggled to lure him back into the cage following the Mayweather boxing match. This fight will not only get their top guy back into the Octagon, but it will also generate the PPV revenue that they desperately need. This rematch would simply need to sell half as many views as their first matchup to break every UFC record, which means the Dana White and company will be offering the farm to get these two men in the cage.

Why the Rematch Won’t Happen in the Cage

The Athletic Commission

While there are unquestionably incentives on all sides to make this rematch a reality, there are also some significant hurdles as well. One such obstacle is getting the fight licensed. The Nevada Athletic Commission did approve of McGregor participating in a boxing match, but there was much less risk in doing so.

As an MMA fighter, Conor has experience in standing and striking. He also had an amateur boxing career before embarking on mixed martial arts. While he was still out of his element, he was capable of protecting himself, and at less risk of serious injury than a boxer going into MMA.

Is the athletic commission comfortable with the possibility of Mayweather being taken to the ground and smashed by elbows while he’s defenseless on his back? They allowed James Toney to fight in the past, will his performance weigh on their decision? I tend to believe that the money will be too vast for them to interfere, but there’s still a possibility that the NSAC steps in and stops this blockbuster from ever happening.

MMA Rules

The wrinkle that makes this fight interesting is also the factor most likely to stop it from ever happening. Floyd Mayweather would have to agree to fight under MMA rules to rematch McGregor, and that makes an enormous difference. Floyd’s boxing style is perfectly adapted for boxing, but nearly useless in mixed martial arts.

In order to be competitive in the cage, he’d need to change almost everything about his standup. His boxing stance would be an invitation for painful, chopping leg kicks. His relaxed left arm and shoulder-rolling tactic would leave him wide open to head kicks. And his lack of wrestling ability would mean Conor could take the fight to the mat and finish him whenever he pleased.

It may not be worth it to Mayweather to tarnish his legacy by being humiliated in the cage. The match won’t count against his official record, but with the internet, the images of him on his back in the cage will live on forever. Can his ego accept such a devastating loss in such a widely viewed event?

There’s no way for Mayweather to close the skill gap and learn all of the other facets of combat required to be a competitive MMA fighter. So, if Floyd is saying it may take a three or four fight deal for him to make a billion dollars, how will that contract possibly play out? Every one of those opponents will have some takedown ability and a well-rounded skillset.

The UFC may need to consider adjusting the rules specifically for when Money fights. If they agree to do that, this fight may be more feasible. If they don’t, I can’t imagine a scenario in which Mayweather takes part in several MMA bouts.

Floyd’s Hands

If you’ve followed Floyd Mayweather’s career, you’ll know that the champion has struggled with the health of his hands for years. After a lifetime of boxing, the bones in his hands are vulnerable and brittle, and he’s broken them numerous times. In boxing, he’s been able to address this by demanding certain types of gloves and larger sizes, but the UFC gloves are much smaller by comparison.

UFC competitors wear four-ounce gloves when they fight, versus the ten-to-twelve-ounce gloves commonly used in boxing. People often mistakenly believe that the gloves worn in combat sports are there to protect the athlete being hit, but their primary purpose is to protect the hands. I don’t believe that Mayweather could fight with the smaller gloves without seriously risking another broken hand.

So We Wait and See

Following the immense success of the first fight, it’s beginning to sound like Floyd Mayweather, and Conor McGregor just might want to do it all over again. When the initial bout first entered the public discussion, most of us scoffed; it seemed preposterous. But these two superstars aren’t just brawlers, they’re businessmen, and when there’s enough money on the line, they find a way to make it happen.

The first showdown was obvious, with the younger McGregor entering Mayweather’s world. With Conor’s amateur boxing past and a highlight reel of knockout wins in the UFC, it was feasible, though unlikely, that the Irishman could score the upset with the right punch. The boxer trying his hand at mixed martial arts would be another task altogether.

While it will be challenging to get Floyd into the Octagon, the fact that we are hearing about it in the media is a good sign. For the next few months, we will be privy to an outpouring of suggestive quotes and teasing social media posts while the major players discuss the reality of this rematch taking place.

There are still multiple hurdles in the way, but if there’s one thing we know it’s if the money is right, these two will find a way to put it in their respective pockets.
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