Touted as the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) fight ever, the bout between undefeated pound-for-pound king Floyd “Money” Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor was certainly that. Never before had two professional athletes from two different sports combined their skills on the biggest stages possible.
The result was historic, as Mayweather became the first boxer to ever defeat an opponent in UFCs history. In the process, he defended his title a record-breaking four times. That was enough for McGregor, who called out Mayweather after the bout.
So how did the two men line up for this historic fight, and what changes would Mayweather have to make if he were going to defeat McGregor? Let’s take a look.
How Did They Line Up In The First Place?
At a time when the UFC was in its infancy, with only UFC 1, 2, and 3 taking place, UFC president Dana White noticed that several top boxers were showing an interest in competing in his burgeoning MMA league. One of the first was Sugar Ray Leonard, who knocked out fellow pioneer and one-time boxing champion Archie Moore in the first round of their 1985 battle. White saw this as a potential landmark fight that would help further legitimize his sport.
After Leonard, other boxers signed up to challenge McGregor. First up was Buster Douglas, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist and one-time WBC heavyweight champion. The two met in Seoul in what was supposed to be a 20-round bout, with Douglas weighing in at a hefty 205 pounds and Mayweather coming in at a more svelte 193. Instead, Douglas took advantage of his size advantage, pounding away at Mayweather for 12 rounds before the fight was stopped; many observers felt the match was fixed from the opening bell.
These days, the matchup would be considered a no-contest, with nearly all pundits favoring Mayweather. Douglas went on to lose to Mike Tyson in a 1995 fight that was ruled a 10-round draw. Afterward, he fought once more, this time in a legitimate 10-round bout against Kevin Bizier, but never regained the glory of his first match with McGregor.
What Did Mayweather Have To Do To Win?
While McGregor was busy making history, Mayweather was busy preparing to unmake it. Even before the fight ended, rumors were swirling that the undefeated champion did not want to face off against a competitor in his sport. At the post-fight press conference, Mayweather admitted that he had prepared for the fight by taking up kickboxing and adding more punches and kicks to his arsenal.
“I trained a lot, and I changed my game plan a little bit,” he said. “I used to fight more boxing with my hands, but now I focus more on my kicks. I feel like it helped a lot. I kicked him a lot in the second round. He was already taking a lot of those shots, and he was getting a little hurt.”
After the conference, Mayweather made his way to the ring for one more round of media. Once there, he ripped off his headphones, stood in the center of the ring, and bowed in an Indian-style. Moments later, he posed for photos with hundreds of flashing cameras and signed every piece of merchandise that had been laid out for him. This is the type of publicity that can make or break a fighter’s career; many elite athletes will tell you that having their photos on social media is the key to widespread appeal and making big money in the long run.
How Did McGregor Line Up?
McGregor started his MMA career in 2014, having competed in amateur bouts since he was 16 years old. He made his professional debut a year later and went on to defeat Brazilian legend Jose Aldo in a five-round upset. Since then, he’s gone on to establish himself as the greatest UFC fighter of all time and one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
After the Aldo fight, McGregor revealed that he had worked with Top Rank’s boxing division on his punching technique. In turn, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum saw McGregor’s potential and signed him to a contract. For McGregor, the deal was a dream come true: He’d get to work with the best trainer in the sport, Freddie Roach, alongside a superstar like Arum. The result was Fight Night Ireland, a blockbuster boxing match between Michael Clarke and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Despite being a three-time world champion, Canelo was no match for the athleticism and precision of McGregor’s attack.
The hype surrounding the fight was immense, with many expecting Canelo to knock out McGregor in the first round. However, McGregor proved to be the superior athlete, using his reach to his advantage and dominating the early rounds. In the last two, Canelo turned it on, rocking McGregor with a blistering right hand and nearly knocking him out in the final seconds of the fourth. The fight was close, but in the end, McGregor won by TKO. This was McGregor’s first loss in his professional career, and it came at the hands of the man he’d signed a contract with just a few months prior.
The night of the fight, McGregor got a phone call from Floyd Mayweather at 10:00 p.m., asking him to come to the hotel and meet with him. It was a last-minute change of plans: In lieu of a pre-fight press conference and photo-op, Mayweather wanted to keep the attention on himself and turned down the opportunity to meet with McGregor. Even though they didn’t technically face off that night, it was still a surreal moment for McGregor: He’d been invited to the biggest fight of his career, against the man he’d built his reputation and fame on beating, and Mayweather had other plans. What are the chances of that ever happening again?
What If Mayweather Hadn’t Turned Down The Meeting?
If Mayweather hadn’t changed his mind at the last minute and decided to meet with McGregor, it’s very unlikely the two would have crossed paths. As it was, their paths crossed in the most improbable of places. With less than 24 hours before the bout, McGregor was scheduled to appear on live television to promote the movie Creed II. During the interview, he was asked about Mayweather and the rumors that he didn’t want to fight him. “I wasn’t aware of that,” McGregor said. “I definitely want to fight Floyd Mayweather.”
The interviewer continued, “Do you think he’s afraid to fight you?” “No,” McGregor replied. “I think it’s just a matter of scheduling. Honestly, I believe that he’s afraid of nobody. But I’m not really worried about that.”
The Biggest Changes That Mayweather Has To Make
Not only did Mayweather have to win the fight, but he also had to do it in a way that didn’t tarnish his legendary status. For years, Mayweather has been the face of boxing, using his celebrity to transcend the sport and its inherent racism. From the time he first donned the gloves, Mayweather’s strategy has been to avoid giving up his considerable size and reach advantage, picking his opponents and settings carefully so that he doesn’t have to put himself in harm’s way too often. This has made him extremely difficult to beat, earning him the nickname “Notorious.” This strategy also explains why Mayweather rarely gets injured: He knows how to protect himself. However, this is also what makes him vulnerable; while his defense has gotten better over the years, his offence has declined, which is why he’s lost several of his fights by decision.
Now that he’s in his 40s and the level of competition has increased, Mayweather has had to adapt his game plan. Gone are the days of him relying solely on his vast experience and natural talent, and in its place is a more modern approach that utilizes the tools available to him. As he gets older, Mayweather has had to change his strategy because he knows that his offense isn’t going to be as quick or as powerful as it was when he was younger, and his defense is going to be slightly more vulnerable.
Where Can We See Mayweather-McGregor II?
With only a few months passing between the first fight and the rematch, the anticipation is already building for Mayweather-McGregor II. The question is: Where can we watch the exciting bout?
With the rise of UFC superstitions and troll bouts being the trend of today’s mixed martial arts (MMA) sports, fans may be more inclined to tune into sports channels to see what happens next. Luckily for them, there are a number of options. Here are some suggestions.