And by “girlfriend experience,” I don’t mean the prostitution/sugar daddy thing. I mean the kind of experience that Floyd Mayweather routinely lays on the women in his life.
My initial reaction to the talk of a Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor match was bafflement: what the fuck are McGregor and Dana White thinking? He’s going to get beaten senseless.
If it’s a pure boxing match, anyway. (I didn’t know the details yet, so I had to speculate.) But White and McGregor wouldn’t do that. These are savvy people interested in protecting their best interests, right?
So it couldn’t be a boxing match. No way Mayweather is dumb enough to agree to MMA rules. And I couldn’t really imagine how you’d craft a hybrid that would level the field.
This meant the only way it made any sense at the level of actual competition would be a two-fight series – one boxing match and one MMA match. Which – the fact that I don’t give a fuck about either sport notwithstanding – would be awesome. Of course, nobody was talking about more than one fight. Hmmm…
Then it was formally announced – it’s a pure boxing match. McGregor was going to fight on Mayweather’s terms. WTFFF (what the fucking fuckety-fuck?).
The opening Vegas odds were unlike anything we’ve seen since Meteor vs Dinosaurs, and for good reason. Mayweather is maybe the greatest fighter of his generation. He’s 49-0. 49-0! That means that he and McGregor have a combined professional boxing record of … well, 49-0. And while MMA is certainly a very intense competition that requires a ridiculous degree of martial skill, IT IS NOT BOXING. MMA includes striking as an option, but you can theoretically be a champion without ever throwing a punch. Boxing? Boxing is punching. It’s where you go if you’re really, really good at hitting people with your fists.
Mayweather/McGregor is going to be entertaining. As spectacle, anyway. Probably not as entertaining as the rolling four-day racism, homophobia and misogyny road show they just staged, of course – and I’m using the word “entertaining” in its original Roman Colosseum sense here. You know, entertaining in the way seeing Christians getting eaten by lions once was for a certain demographic.
So why the hell is McGregor doing it? Well, his crazy ass probably thinks he can win. However, he has likely also considered the check he’s been offered, which has a lot of zeroes between the dollar sign and decimal point. Worst case, Mayweather took all that “dance for me, boy” shit personally and drops you in 10 seconds to make a point, and you still get to keep the loot.
Fine. But what is Dana White thinking? Money is nice, but at his level his job is about the long term health of the business, about its brand, about its integrity. UFC has pretty much surpassed boxing in the public eye, I think, owing to a couple factors: a) MMA’s raw brutality, and b) boxing’s nigh-on FIFA-esque levels of ineptitude and corruption. I couldn’t tell you who the heavyweight champ is right now. I think there’s three or four of them, and one of them might be a Klitschko. (Just looked it up and I was wrong. There are theoretically up to six champs, none of them Klitschkos, and some guy named Anthony Joshua holds two of the titles. Which in modern boxing I guess makes him the man, anonymous though he may be.)
But what happens when you put your product out on the big stage in the form of one of your premiere champions, matching him up against the sport you’re competing with for the heart (and wallet) of that combat-loving consumer? This isn’t about Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather. It’s about the credibility of your sport. It’s about boxing vs the UFC and which one is the real big dog in the fight game.
What kind of hit does your cred take when Floyd Mayweather gives your brightest star, your most valuable asset, the girlfriend experience?
No, not that kind of girlfriend experience. I’m not talking about the sex industry’s “commercial experience that blurs the boundaries between a financial transaction and a romantic relationship” thing. I mean the kind of experience that Floyd Mayweather routinely lays on the women in his life. Or general proximity.
It’s possible the UFC is going to feel some of that love, too.
Maybe I’m wrong. I’m not a fight expert of any sort and for all I know McGregor might beat Mayweather like he stole a dollar out of the offering plate. But if Dana White is feeling like he got backed into a bit of a corner, I absolutely understand.