So many questions. Such a buzz. As always, a fight is set to happen, set for 36 minutes top, but we’ve been talking about it for weeks now. Even months. What does really matter, at the end of the day ? The fight itself.
Yes. They’ll make a huge amount of money. Good for them. Actually, good for both sports.
Yes. This is weird. This is a freak show. But, a MMA living legend has the balls to come into the boxing world against another living legend of his own sport. Remember when James Toney stepped into the UFC cage to face a two-division champ ? Maybe. It wasn’t such a buzz. Why ? Because today, not only you need to be a great athlete to be recognized, but you need to be an exceptional promoter.
Therefore, before I start, I’ll show my respect to both these guys and their team. They are about to do what nobody has ever done before in terms of numbers. Because they are excellent at what they do.
Let’s focus on what really matters, shall we ? The fight. Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather. Let’s have a self-Q&A. But before that, let me clear out how I analyze fights before they happen.
First thing you need to focus on is the style. What is one capable of doing, and unable to do. Same for the opponent. What is prominent in their own style. Then, you want to try to foresee how that matches. Elite athletes don’t have holes in their game. They have habits. And you need to analyze these habits to see things one can capitalize on, considering his skills. Then you throw all the other factors.
Now, right before I start, I’d like to indicate that I have a correct knowledge of MMA, and McGregor. As far as boxing is concerned, my knowledge is basic, at best. Therefore, my answers will be more oriented to MMA.
Question #1: Can Conor McGregor win this fight ?
Yes. Have you been a fan of any combat sport ? If you’ve been a fan of any combat sport for long enough, you know anything can happen, and that’s actually what we love about it. If your answer is the opposite than mine, I dare you (I double dare you) to bet ALL of your money on a Mayweather’s win. Bet your wife while you’re at it.
A single punch can change the whole story of a fight. I’ll give you that, more in MMA than in boxing. Hell, even a wrong step and you can injure your foot. Shit happens.
Question #2: Floyd being 41 years old, should it be considered as a factor ?
Yes. Floyd’s game is mostly defensive. His success in boxing is based on movement, shifts, rolls, timing and hand speed, among other things. Those skills are not the same when you’re not at the peak of your career. And the peak of these athletic skills is when you are around 27-30 years old (in combat sport – in my own opinion/experience). Of course it’s a factor, these skills are not at 100% anymore, and guess what, Conor’s are. But, experience is always a huge factor, and Floyd has a massive advantage there.
Question #3: What do we know about the Irish’s boxing skills ?
Nothing. We know absolutely nothing about his pure boxing skills. We have seen short footages of his sparring against Paulie Malignaggi. We have seen him perform some pad work, heavybag work. All of that is selected. What Dana White says, what Paulie and his coach say, what Conor and his coachs say might be lies. His 0-0. We don’t know anything about how he fares in a pure boxing match.
Question #3′: Mmh, but we saw his MMA fights. Boxers say his punching skills are bad, aren’t they ?
No. His punching skills are extraordinary. Look at what he did to Eddie Alvarez, Jose Aldo, anyone, actually. He even showed great things against Nate. I believe his bad energy management was the reason he lost. Anyway, my answer to this question is always the same: ask any great boxer to spar against another great boxer with MMA gloves. Will the sparring be as good as usual, in terms of techniques ? Let me help you: nope. Now add the fact that we can kick, and take someone down in MMA. The whole dynamic changes. Posture (which is one critical fundamental) changes. Distance (another critical fundamental) changes, and this changes everything; timing, feint game, pressure. Conor has solid punching skills and he is training boxing only now. He will have a professional level, hands down (literally ?), but will it be enough to defeat a guy who has 21 years of experience at the highest professional level, maybe not.
Question #4: Speaking of gloves, does it change anything that they’ll now use 8oz gloves ?
Yes. Not too much in my opinion, but yes. When the fight was official, one of my first thought was: to make the fight as even as possible on paper, it should be a boxing fight with MMA gloves. This would have been amazing because I wouldn’t have been able to give either a fair advantage. When you move from 10oz to 8oz, it gives a slight advantage to the one who throws the most significant strikes. Floyd is a defensive fighter, but he counters well. It will be harder for him to cover up with 8oz than with 10oz (captain obvious, here). If he gets hit with a clean shot, it will have more damage. And this works the other way around, too. At first, I thought it was a big advantage for Conor, but between 10oz and 8oz, the dynamics don’t change, or very slightly. So the advantage is just hanging there, to the one with the more efficient volume. Could be either. If it was 4oz, the dynamics would be totally different and this would have helped Conor a lot.
Question #5: First argument of Dana White was: Conor is a southpaw, and Floyd struggles against southpaw. What do you make of that ?
This is just poor promotion. He should have said « Floyd fights in an orthodox stance, and Conor excels in Open Guard ». Floyd hasn’t really struggled more against southpaw than orthodox. He has had tough fights against both. Just look how he fought against the last southpaw he faced, Manny Pacquiao. It went well. Conor said it himself millions of times, « these orthodox fighters don’t understand the open guard logic ». And he is right. While Mayweather’s success is mostly due to his defensive skills, McGregor’s success mostly comes from his understanding of how to fight a rightie being a leftie.
Question #6: Ring versus Cage, does it change a lot ?
YES! Ask Fedor (lol). Of course, it changes a lot, especially when you’re a pressure fighter. Four 90° angles is not the same as eight 45° angles. At all. The way you move, the way you pivot, the way you slide change. I love this question because I have never heard it anywhere else and it is a relevant one! Conor isn’t a pressure fighter per say, he adapts depending on his opponent. He is more of an aggressive counter-puncher in my opinion, but he did apply great pressure in some of his fights, like against Dustin Poirier or Dennis Siver for instance. Anyway, it is easier to cut angles in a ring than in a cage. But Conor’s been used to octogons for years. I’m sure he’ll be the one keeping the control of the center of the ring 90% of the time, but I’m not sure he’ll be able to corner the man the Floyd is.
Question #7: 12 rounds of 3 minutes versus 5 rounds of 5, does it change a lot ?
Yes. Once again, this changes a lot. Rhythm is very important in a fight. Energy management as well. We saw Conor tires himself out in the second round against Nate Diaz. We saw Floyd run marathons in the 12th round. It changes the rhythm of the fight, it changes how you should manage your energy. Now that we talk a bit cardio, I will clarify something here regarding Conor’s performance against Nate the first time. I’m not trying to defend him. But, when you train most of your life weighing X kilos. If at some point you weigh 5% more, you will not be as permanent as before. As a triathlete to put on 5 kilos, he will perform poorly compared to what he is capable of at his natural weight. Conor was fresh in the second round against Eddie Alvarez (sure, it’s only the second round… But Nate the first time was also during the second); he recognized his weakness and will be ready, I think, for 12 rounds chasing Floyd.
Question #8: What happens if Floyd wins ?
Both guys have been very clever with this fight. Floyd has been clever because of how he negotiated the rules. He brought Conor to his world. To his home. He made sure, as usual, that he would have all the advantages he could get to win this fight. Conor has been clever because he has nothing to lose. He is a 0-0 boxer. Against a 49-0. If Conor loses, he is like 49 (well, there has been a couple of rematches, so let’s say 45) other professional boxers. He will have a common point with Saul Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao; they all have lost to Mayweather. Does it make him a bad boxer, a bad fighter ? Nope.
If Floyd wins, we will know what we already know: Floyd is a better boxer than Conor. Conor is a better fighter than Floyd.
Question #8′: Conor is a better fighter than Floyd ?? Can you explain ?
James Toney versus Randy Couture. All over again. Ask Floyd and Conor to box a hundred times against each other, Floyd will win a big part of these boxing matchs. Floyd is the better boxer. Ask them to fight each other a hundred times, Conor will win a big part of these fights. Conor is the better fighter.
Question #9: What happens if Conor wins ?
I’m pretty sure 99% of the people will be shocked. Those who bet on Conor will be happy. MMA community will be happy. I mean part of it. Let’s keep in mind that there are a LOT of dumb people on earth. McGregor’s haters will be sad. And boxing community will probably be sad. But who cares. What matters is that nobody will deny how great of an athlete Conor McGregor is. It would be like if Usain Bolt winning a golden ball in soccer in 2019. It would be like Michael Jordan also became #1 ATP. He would be the very first athlete (I might be mistaken here saying very first) to dominate in two different sports.
Question #10: Why should one believe in Conor’s chances ?
Refer to question #1. Not only that, but Conor brought something new to the game. To the fighting game. He is the Bruce Lee of the modern era. He develops skills no one else thought of working on. And he proved its efficiency. There is also something about it. The law of attraction. It seems to work. He surprised us more than once. Way more than once. I don’t know. There are a few scenario where I see him win. It makes total sense Floyd Mayweather is a massive favorite in this boxing match. But I feel like Conor has his shot. Totally.