It’s finally official. Undefeated (and previously retired) boxing great Floyd Mayweather will fight UFC lightweight champion (and former featherweight champ) Conor McGregor later this summer is what is easily the biggest boxing/mixed martial arts cross-over in the history of either sport.
McGregor and Mayweather are two of the most colorful athletes in combat sports. They are both known for talking massive amounts of trash before a fight, and then backing it up with incredible skills in the ring. In McGregor’s case, he’s one of the hardest-hitting lightweights in the UFC, with excellent head movement and footwork. Mayweather, on the other hand, is a patient counter-puncher who is often content to sit back and wait for his opponent to make a mistake.
As we get ready for the latest bout to be branded “The Fight of the Century,” here are all the details you need to know about this massive sporting event. If you’re a huge fight fan, you may already know most of these things. If you’re a casual fan who’s willing to climb aboard the hype train, then this will probably be useful.
The fight is happening on August 26 in Las Vegas, but the location is yet to be decided. Although the new T-Mobile Arena is bigger, Mayweather Promotions has a long standing deal with the MGM Grand for his events (it’s the same arena that Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao in 2015). The Nevada State Athletic Commission approved a request from Mayweather Promotions to hold a boxing card at the MGM Grand on August 26, but UFC president Dana White said the fight will likely go down at the T-Mobile Arena.
The new arena, which has already hosted a handful of major UFC events (and will be the home of the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL this Fall), can cram it roughly two or three thousand more fans. Right now, it sounds like the fight will happen there and not at MGM Grand.
The fight will be a strict 12-round boxing match, meaning that any of McGregor’s MMA techniques (other than punching) are banned. No leg kicks. Actually, no kicking of any kind. No grappling, no wrestling, no submissions. Just boxing. The fight will happen in a standard boxing ring, and not the caged octagon of the UFC (or any other hybrid-style ring).
The fighters will wear 10-ounce boxing gloves (the UFC typically uses 4-ounce gloves with open fingers). Interestingly enough, 8-ounce gloves were used when Mayweather fought Pacquiao. The fighters have agreed to a 154-pound weight limit, which shouldn’t be a problem for either of them. McGregor regularly made 145-pounds while competing in the UFC’s featherweight division, and Mayweather typically fights at welterweight, which has a limit of 147-pounds in boxing (it’s 170-pounds in the UFC).
Here’s a simple one. Mayweather remains undefeated throughout his entire career, sporting a perfect 49-0 record while winning titles in five different weight classes. He’s won 15 different world titles (although he would later relinquish some when he switched weight classes). While he was active, he was often considered the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, and is still regarded as one the greatest of all-time.
McGregor’s record paints a different picture. While he sports a 21-3 record in MMA (with 18 knockouts), his boxing record is far less impressive. Because it doesn’t exist. He’s officially 0-0, having precisely zero professional boxing experience.
There’s a special significance if Mayweather wins this fight. Not only will it bring his professional record up to nice round number of 50-0, it will also push him past the late, great Rocky Marciano for the most impressive record of all-time. Marciano, a heavyweight who competed in the 40s and 50s, also put up a perfect 49-0 record before he retired. He held the heavyweight title for four years and knocked out his opponent in 43 of his 49 fights.
If Mayweather can notch one more victory, he’ll stand alone as the one boxer with the most impressive record of all-time.
Don’t expect this thing to be cheap. For anyone who paid $100 to see the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, you can get ready to shell out a similar amount of money for this one. While an official price tag hasn’t been revealed, Showtime pay-per-view will likely be asking for a pretty penny for this event. Dana White has publicly said that the price will be “similar to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.”
It’s possible the fight comes in around $90, considering McGregor’s complete lack of boxing experience. We’ve also read that a $120 price tag was thrown around, although it may be hard for the casual fan to swallow that amount. Then again, this thing has the makings of a pop culture phenomenon, and people will probably gladly fork over a Benjamin just to take part.
Will There Be MMA Fights?
Even though McGregor is the UFC’s biggest star, they are really stepping aside here. Sure, they probably still stand to make a substantial amount of money, but the PPV will be run by Showtime and the event run by Mayweather Promotions. The entire fight card will consist of boxing matches, with zero MMA fights.
The UFC will help with fight promotion though, as Dana White has already confirmed that cameras will follow McGregor around to film episodes of their popular UFC Embedded show. But unlike previous cross-over events that have tried to do a mix of boxing and MMA, McGregor vs. Mayweather will be sticking to the sweet science.
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “wait, isn’t Floyd Mayweather retired?” Well, yes, he is. Or should we say, he was. In all the back-and-forth between the two loud-mouthed fighters over the past year or so, Mayweather has already insisted that he would come out of retirement for the right fight (aka one that will make him hundreds of millions of dollars).
Mayweather officially retired after defeating Andre Berto in 2015, and his championship titles were declared vacant (they have since been won by other fighters). As long as the Nevada State Athletic Commission approves Mayeather’s license (which shouldn’t be an issue), Mayweather is free to unretire as many times as he wants.
What About the Lightweight Title?
While the hype for his fight is real, it does create a bit of a problem for the UFC. When McGregor beat Eddie Alvarez in November 2016, he became one of the few fighters in UFC history to hold titles in two weight classes at the same time (featherweight and lightweight). But between taking some time off to become a father (which happened in May 2017) and pursuing this fight with Mayweather, two UFC divisions have basically been put on hold while they wait for Mystic Mac to decide on his future.
The UFC stripped McGregor’s featherweight championship due to inactivity, and it now belongs to Max Holloway. But he’s still the lightweight champion, and has publicly said he wants to defend that title before the end of 2017. We guess that means that McGregor will return to the octagon after this fight with Mayweather, win or lose.
McGregor is already part of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug testing pool, since he is an active UFC competitor. Mayweather, who has been retired for a while now, has not been part of any drug testing program. However, in a conference call in mid-June, Dana White said that Mayweather’s side had no problems agreeing to joining the same USADA program.
Typically, UFC fighters are required to be tested for three-months before they are allowed to compete (that rule was controversially waived for Brock Lesnar’s surprise return at UFC 200, and he failed a drug test afterwards). The official announcement for this fight came just a little over two months from the fight date, and it’s unclear whether Mayweather has already begun USADA testing in anticipation of the deal getting done or will simply begin immediately after signing on the dotted line.
The Betting Odds
To literally no one’s surprise, Mayweather is a huge favorite in his fight. Despite being 40-years-old and having a slight reach disadvantage, most sports books have Mayweather listed as a -1100 favorite (although we’ve seen as low as -600 in some places). For those unfamiliar with money line betting, those numbers mean you have to bet roughly $1000 to get a payout of $1100, for a total profit of $100.
McGregor, meanwhile, is a massive underdog. A bet on him comes in anywhere from +400 to +700, meaning that a $100 bet will pay out somewhere between $400 and $700, depending on your specific bookie. It’s a higher reward, but it comes with a much higher risk.
The odds will change as money comes in on either side. Mayweather was originally as much of a -2500 favorite, and McGregor as much as a +1100 underdog. The bets already made have brought the lines closer together. Of course, there are also a number of fun prop bets, like how many rounds will the fight last and how many PPV buys it will get.
We saved the best for last. Let’s be honest, this fight is all about the money. After all, in what universe should anyone care about a 40-year-old retired boxer fighting a UFC champion with zero experience? Many critics have already spoken out about this fight being a complete farce. And you know what? They are absolutely right! This thing is a huge sham, a shameless money grab — and we can’t f**king wait to watch it!
The boxing purists can yell all they want, but they are forgetting that their sport (and all sports, really) are about entertainment. The general masses don’t always care whether the fight is a legitimate contest between the two most deserving foes. They just want to be entertained. With McGregor and Mayweather on the marquee, entertainment is guaranteed. Even if the fight itself is a stinker, the build up will be legendary.
Early estimates for the fight suggest that it will attract over four million buys on PPV, making sure that everyone involved makes a killing. Mayweather will receive at least $100 million, while McGregor stands to earn roughly $70 million at a minimum. The promoters (Showtime, UFC, Mayweather Promotions) will all get their share too, but there should be more than enough money to go around.