Letting an MMA fighter with zero professional boxing experience like Conor McGregor fight a legendary boxing great like Floyd Mayweather under boxing rules seems like a terrible idea. There’s no way the MMA guy can win, and it’s probably going to result in him (and possibly the sport of MMA) looking very foolish. While it would still be an entertaining spectacle, many expected cooler heads to prevail and the fight to get vetoed by someone with a large financial stake in McGregor — namely, the UFC.
But instead, something crazy happened: UFC president Dana White went on national television and basically said the fight was going to happen. Speaking to TMZ Sports, he said he couldn’t stand in the way of his biggest star making oodles and oodles of money. Which is strange, because he’s stopped another one of his biggest stars, Anderson Silva, from doing the same thing.
So what’s the deal? How is McGregor different from Silva? According to White, it’s because Conor has stepped up and saved the company untold millions in the past when multiple opponents have pulled out last second.
“This kid steps up,” White said on the latest episode of The Herd with Colin Cowherd (via FOX Sports). “He’ll fight anybody, anywhere, anytime. A lot of people say it, very few really mean it. Conor McGregor, I call him the unicorn. I’ve never dealt with a kid like this. So for him to have this kind of opportunity, to make this kind of money, this type of a fight that people are so interested in worldwide, I almost feel like I have to make it.”
“This guy has stepped up at times when people were at his level would never step up. I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it again — I’m the guy standing in the living room, I’m the guy on the phone when these guys are looking down the barrel of a new opponent a week before the fight and Conor McGregor doesn’t flinch.”
No, he doesn’t. Four of McGregor’s opponents have dropped out of fights at the last minute, and each time McGregor has accepted a late replacement. Even when he was supposed to face Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt, he didn’t blink to accept a non-title fight when dos Anjos pulled out. Instead, he called out the much heavier Nate Diaz, setting the stage for the two fight series that became the biggest pay-per-view fights in the history of the UFC.
Being bold has worked out well for both Conor and the UFC’s bottom lines. And now the UFC is giving McGregor the go ahead to make this Mayweather fight out of gratitude for all the times he’s stepped up.