On Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor And Prizefighting Versus Belt Chasing

Just a few months ago, I accepted a position to cover the UFC for Fox Sports and move to Los Angeles in the process. Now, when I have to do the song and dance of introducing myself to others, the intrigue of what I do usually merits a follow-up that revolves around my opinion regarding the upcoming contest between Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor. This dialogue never begins with a question of Floyd's defensive skill or Conor's youth and athleticism, rather, whether this fight is something worth their time. Yes, a fight that no one can stop talking about is being dominated with a narrative about whether this fight is actually worth a damn or not.


From Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, to Rocky vs. Thunderlips in Rocky III. Ronda Rousey vs. Stephanie McMahon? Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki? Jon Jones vs. Brock Lesnar? The intrigue of the biggest names facing each other has always been the ultimate draw, more so than the actual display of skill and who is "the best".

It doesn't mean that there isn't value and appreciation for determining who is the best. More often than not, that's how you earn your worth on the marquee. However, what draws eyeballs isn't always about being the best. Ask Peter McNeely about that. Or Kimbo Slice (RIP).

Kanye West famously rapped about how your college degrees won't keep you warm at night. Essentially saying that you can be supremely recognized with a bevy of degrees and still feel underpaid and under-appreciated. Similarly, there have been countless fighters to wear the gold around their waist and feel like they're similarly underpaid and under-appreciated. Ask McGregor, Demetrious Johnson and Tyron Woodley how they feel about their current pay and appreciation. It's why the fight game can be so entertaining, because it's always been about more than just knocking someone out or making one tap out. If you don't have the juice that draws the people, the more limiting one's quality of life will forever be as a fighter.

That's why everything that happened with McGregor at his post-workout presser was golden. Per Fox Sports, McGregor was concise in his words (and his attire).

I'm prepared to win. I'm prepared to win, in devastating fashion. That's where we're at. I don't care about the money or any of that. It gets to a point where the money just...the money is up here and goes (cash counter noise) right to the top. It's always up at the top. It's always up there. So, I'm at that point stage now, forever money. As long as I make my correct decisions, and not make stupid decisions, I'm set for life. — Conor McGregor, while wearing a Versace robe

In 81 words, McGregor shared how his ultimate plan had paid off with the chance of fighting Floyd Mayweather for an estimated purse of approximately $100 million going towards the Irishman. All of those epic press conferences of spewed braggadocio were paired with dominance inside the octagon, thusly giving fans what they craved. While McGregor had given everyone else what they wanted, he was still being criminally underserved by an organization incapable of giving him what he wanted: A chance to be set for life.

What's fascinating is that the person who would provide McGregor the golden ticket was the last person to most recently take the trailblazing path to ultimate financial glory: Floyd Mayweather.

The Blueprint, Money Edition. (Source: Isaac Brekken)

Floyd's decision to become a character, to wear the proverbial black hat, to create his own promotional vehicle, to negotiate terms on his own accord, and be the indomitable force inside the squared circle leaves him on the precipice of going undefeated in 50 consecutive fights is the ultimate blueprint for any person who trades on their body for a living. Your presence in front of people must be transcendent, and your ability to meet every physical challenge must be unwavering and destructive. That's why you haven't heard a single word mentioned about Mayweather's welterweight titles or what's going to happen to McGregor's lightweight championship belt in the UFC. This is a prizefight, for your entertainment only.

Fights that put the pound-for-pound best in their respective fighting rings will always captivate our attention. Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier II was deserving of our energy and Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin demands our attention. Yet Mayweather vs. McGregor is as much about the spectacle and everything that occurs because of the two headliners. Will it be a spectacular fight? The chances aren't high, but when spectacular fights are booked, the general public doesn't tend to tune-in in the first place. Remember when GGG fought Danny Jacobs in March? It could go down as the fight of the year in 2017, and it did just 170,000 pay-per-view buys. Every pay-per-view the UFC has produced since UFC 200 has done more than 175,000 PPV buys.

So when you find yourself chipping in $20 or a bottle of libation for a fight party at your buddy's house, just realize you're doing this because this is about prizefighting and the spectacle of putting the biggest names against each other. Because if this was simply for determining who the best welterweight in the world was, you'd probably be worrying about drafting your fantasy football team or clipping your toenails instead.

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