Just like that, the most hyped fight in recent memory is over and done with. The Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather boxing match mostly lived up to expectations, providing an exciting bout that left very few people griping about the price (unless you were one of those who purchased a glitchy PPV stream). But mostly, the fight game is back in the same place it was before the circus came to town — Mayweather retires (again) as an undefeated legend. McGregor remains the UFC lightweight champion and will likely defend that title in his next fight.
So what did we learn from Saturday night? Well, a few things. Some of them are obvious, but others less so. Here are the eight things we learned from the big event.
8. No One Lost
I know what you’re saying. And yes, technically Conor McGregor lost this fight by TKO in the 10th round. That’s the official outcome. But in a broader sense, no one really lost the fight. No one really expected McGregor to win against one of boxing’s all-time greatest fighters. The fact that he looked sharp early and hung around for 10 rounds is actually a pretty strong showing by the Irishman. The MMA community was generally proud of his efforts.
In Mayweather’s case, he gave up a good 20-pounds and 12 whole years to his opponent, and still managed to execute his gameplan perfectly. He waited for McGregor to get tired before unleashing a barrage of punches in the later rounds, forcing the referee to stop the fight — to literally no one’s surprise. He did exactly what he was supossed to do by defending boxing’s honor against the MMA invader.
Oh, and they both made hundreds of millions of dollars. Like I said, no one really lost here.
7. Promotion Matters
Did you ever stop to ask yourself why you were expected to care about a fight between a 40-year-old retired dude and a guy with literally zero professional boxing experience? And not only were you supposed to care about the outcome, but you were also supposed to drop $100 in order to watch it happen — which people did in record numbers.
If you didn’t believe in the power of promotion before, you have no choice but to accept it now. McGregor and Mayweather are two the best in the business when it comes to promoting themselves. The UFC does a pretty strong job with their big stars too. While talent is part of the reason that Mayweather and McGregor have risen to the tops of their respective sports, that’s only half of the reason. Their outrageous bravado, trash talk, and downright arrogance has fight fans tuning in by the millions just to see what they might say or do next. No one cared about the legitimate athletic outcome of this contest. It wasn’t for any championships and the rankings of either men don’t matter. People tuned in because Mayweather and McGregor are magical promotional unicorns, capable of producing money from thin air with nothing but their words.
6. The UFC Will Be Fine
I saw more than one opinion piece floating around the internet that suggested the UFC was screwed, in multiple ways. First they were screwed because they were losing Conor McGregor, their biggest star, to boxing. Then they were screwed because his marketability would be ruined if he lost. Then they were ruined because he might never return to the UFC if he won. All of those things are pure BS. The UFC is fine, and will be fine for the foreseeable future.
McGregor said after losing to Mayweather that his next fight will be in the UFC, removing the worry that MMA will lose their biggest star. But on a bigger level, the UFC has lost of plenty of stars in their history. They just create new ones. The likes of Chuck Liddell, BJ Penn, Anderson Silva, or Randy Couture are all distant memories (even if some of them continue to fight). The next (and current) generation of stars like Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, and Conor McGregor will eventually give way too. You could argue that Jones and Rousey are both effectively done in MMA already, making room for new faces to become household names. Everyone just relax.
5. McGregor’s Power is Questionable
Before the fight, everyone cheering for McGregor (so, 90 percent of the audience) was quick to scream about the Irishman’s deadly left hand. After all, it was the McGregor left hand that flattened Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds. This fight was basically sold on the belief that McGregor had a puncher’s chance against the best defensive boxer in history, as long as managed to connect with that left.
Well, McGregor did land the left. A couple times, especially with a nice looking uppercut in the early rounds. But Mayweather never stumbled. It didn’t even faze him, really. So unless you’re willing to believe that a 40-year-old man with 50 professional fights still has a rock-solid chin (which, hey, is possible), then you have to start questioning all the talk about McGregor’s mythical punching power.
4. Mayweather is the GOAT
Maybe we didn’t need Mayweather vs. McGregor to know this, since the eyeball test already convinced most boxing fans that Floyd is the best in the history of the business. But the 50-0 record does mean something, as it breaks the 49-0 undefeated record previously held jointly by Mayweather and the late heayweight champ Rocky Marciano.
A lot of people say Muhammad Ali was the greatest, but that’s only because he told you he was the greatest every time he opened his mouth. Ali might have been the best showman, but he was never the best boxer. He got to 31-0 before losing to Joe Frazier and then was 41-2 with a loss to Ken Norton. He also hung on too long, losing three out of his last four fights. If Mayweather stays retired, his career will certainly stand the test of time as the greatest in boxing history.
3. Personalities > Talent
I watched the entire card, and remember being thoroughly impressed with the quality of the fighters on the undercard. The fights were entertaining. But for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of any of them. I know I could go look it up, but that’s beside the point. I’m not a hardcore boxing fan (although I’m a pretty serious MMA fan), but I don’t know who I watched. That means I probably won’t tune in the next time they fight. That’s a bit of a problem for the sport of boxing.
Much like when Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao, the McGregor fight proved that boxing thrives on huge personalities, not extremely talented fighters. The UFC isn’t entirely different. All you have to do is look at the lack of hype for UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who is perhaps the greatest champion in MMA history. But he’s kind of laid back and boring, so the UFC doesn’t bother to spend time and money promoting him like they do with the McGregors, Lesnars, or Rouseys of the world. If you wanna make it big in the fight game, you better have a large personality to show to the public.
2. Boxing Isn’t Dead
I hear the phrase “boxing is dead” roughly once a month. For the last ten years. Somehow, boxing continues to not be dead, much to the dismay of its many critics. The UFC hasn’t killed boxing, and all you have to do is look at the PPV numbers to see the evidence. The Mayweather-McGregor fight will sell around five million buys. The UFC probably doesn’t get five million buys in an entire year, which usually consists of 12-to-16 PPV events.
Although they have obvious similarities, boxing and MMA are different sports. It’s as simple as that. It’s perfectly possible to be a fan of both, and many fight fans are. Some fighter will come fill the void left by Mayweather, possibly the winner of Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. Or possibly someone else. There will always be an appetite for the sweet science, even as the sport goes through various ups and downs.
1. People Are Suckers
This is another truth we probably didn’t need the McGregor-Mayweather spectacle to be convinced of, but just in case you need reminding: people are idiots. Almost 20,000 people forked over thousands of dollars to see this circus in person at the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas. The live gate was estimated to be worth roughly $70 million. Throw in another five million PPV buys at $100 apiece, plus numerous sponsorship deals and broadcasting rights, and this fight stands to gross close to a billion dollars by the time every penny is added up.
What did we all pay for? We paid to watch a retired boxer outclass an adventurous amateur in a fight with zero competitive interest. In fact, we couldn’t wait to fork over our hard earned money to watch this fraud of a fight. The next time boxing puts together a similar spectacle, we’ll happily do it all again. And they know it.