***This storyline is ever changing. Every day there seems to be a new development and the rollercoaster of emotions is not stopping. Check back in from time to time to see my updates and newest thoughts. Or don’t. But I prefer you do because that way I don’t feel like I’m alone in this***
At last, the greatest combat sporting event is upon us. Yes, you are correct: I did predict this event would get done this year. Please, save your applause and congratulations, though, because I was incorrect about the date. We shoot for 100% accuracy around here, and settle for nothing less (If you feel compelled, please throw me a follow @derekjbeaupre and let me know how brilliant I am there).
“Derek! You were right! It’s happening!”
“Derek! Are you even sleeping with your level of excitement?”
“Derek! Has your girlfriend left you yet because you won’t stop yelling about Conor yet?”
Thanks, I know. No. And not yet, but we’re teetering.
The truth is, friends, you have found me in a strange place regarding this event. It is well-documented that I am a Conor fanboy. I love the man, I love what he’s done for one of my favorite sports, and I love that he’s getting an opportunity to be a part of true sports history. The reality is this: I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster with this fight, and I’m kind of exhausted with the whole thing.
We all knew when this fight was announced that we would be getting a promotional campaign for the ages. The first trailer raised goosebumps on my skin, as well as other appendages on my body. It was beautiful. It made both men look like absolute killers, which they are, and got everyone on board for this four-event, international press conference tour.
The press conferences were what we expected, and they weren’t. I won’t recap them all here because you can find that on other, less prestigious websites, but I’ll touch on a few things that have led me to this strange emotional place I’m at now. Conor did what Conor does: he dressed sharp, looked handsome as all hell, and talked a lot of real shit. Floyd did what he does: he rolled 50 deep everywhere he went, talked about how he’s the greatest ever and how much money he’s made. Dana White put on his old promoter hat and, in my opinion, crushed it. He returned to the Dana White of old, the man who turned a niche blood sport into a $4 billion-dollar company, and honestly, I found it refreshing as an MMA fan.
Now, you might say, “Derek, those all seem like good things! Expected things! Why are you down in the dumps sweetie?” Don’t call me sweetie, and I’ll tell you why. The Brooklyn press conference was an absolute mess and a devolution this fight almost couldn’t afford; it really knocked the excitement down a notch.
The discussion surrounding Conor’s use of “boy” and Floyd’s HARD use of a certain blacklisted word has taken the focus off of the fight and put it under the PC microscope. The repetition of the same insults going back and forth were for the most part low hanging fruit, and the constant discussion of owed taxes was tiring. To top it all off, there were some pretty concrete reports that Floyd and Conor shared a private jet to London together.
TL;DR: I’m not sure anymore of how much of a competition this event is as much as it is a grandiose, contrived show. Am I being negative? Sure. But we’ve been disappointed by too many boxing events in the last decade-plus, and as an abused fan, I’m afraid that’s what’s going to happen here.
The promotion going into this fight, the analysis from seemingly anyone with a microphone and the apparent manufacturing of animosity has me in a place where I’m less excited than I am concerned. I’m hoping that when both men return to their respective camps to focus on the task at hand, we get more of a look at their training, maybe some more quicksand talk and a more traditional lead up to what I believe COULD be a fight for the ages.
My biggest source of contention these days is boxing-only analysts discussing the merits of Floyd, and, by extension, the lack thereof for Conor. They seem to be the only ones getting mainstream airtime to talk about how lopsided this matchup is, how Conor’s only chance is to break the rules, fight dirty and claim an illegitimate victory. It boils my blood.
Both men have entered a legally-binding agreement of the rules and regulations. Both men have competed cleanly at the highest levels and have not only a respect for one another, but more importantly, a respect for the world of combat sports. What almost no one wants to talk about is the actual physical matchup of these two. Let this 25-year-old non-athlete who has done nothing more than watch hours upon hours of these two compete give you my highly uneducated opinion on this.
Conor raised some legitimate points about the physical being of Floyd in his press conferences. His tiny core, his tiny head, basically him being tiny. This bout will be at 154 lbs. That’s one of the heaviest weights Floyd has ever competed at, and a healthy cut for Conor, the latter of whom has more size and power than Floyd; I don’t think anyone can argue that point. Where there is a legitimate space for debate is where we talk about the technique and movement of both men.
Floyd is the greatest defensive boxer of all time, hands down, no two ways about it. His ability to step into the regular dimensions of reality with another human being, learn his movements for 4 rounds, and in turn step into the matrix to box their face off for the remaining rounds is legitimately a more beautiful art than half of the exhibits at your local museum.
WITH THAT BEING SAID, Floyd has never been near a someone who moves like Conor. No one who has fought Conor has ever been near someone who moves like him, because no one does. His style of movement is damn near impossible to mimic, and his record shows it’s damn near impossible to defeat. Conor is a southpaw, another aspect that works against Floyd. Southpaws move away from Floyd’s style, they don’t succumb as easily to his legendary shoulder roll and the left hand at the back of Conor’s unorthodox southpaw stance is murderous. It has slept many men bigger than Floyd. Many men with bigger heads than Floyd. Many men. Period.
The debate to be had here is not whether Conor knows how to box: he can. It’s not whether or not he’s a better boxer than Floyd: he’s not. It’s not whether or not Conor will cheat to win: he won’t. The debate to be had here is a debate as old as the world of combat sports: can a bigger stronger man touch a smaller, faster man? I’m here to tell you: yes.
Since this fight was announced, I’ve been saying that for Conor to win, he needs to close the distance and fight aggressively for 4-6 rounds. The fight must end in 4-6 rounds for Conor to win. If it goes any longer than that, Floyd will out-move, out-box and beat Conor on points. It will be like any other Floyd Mayweather fight you’ve ever seen. Once Floyd does figure out Conor’s movements, which he will because he’s the best ever at doing so, it’s game over.
Based on recent quotes, The Notorious One seems to feel the same way. His prediction of “inside of four rounds” is not one with which I can argue. The Mystique of the Mystic Mac is well-documented, and he’s not one with which to argue either. If a man who has defied logic his entire career plans to defy logic again, at what point do we stop saying, “that’s illogical”?
This is what he does: the seemingly impossible. I have no doubts that IF Conor can get close, can land a few right handed jabs to break Floyd’s guard and uncork the terrifying left hand he possesses, Floyd’s little head and little core won’t stand a chance. I would like to see more debates on that “if” than “will Conor cheat?” “Is this fight rigged?” and so on and so forth.
I feel like this piece may not be one of my most coherent ones: maybe not the most well-communicated, but maybe the “greyest” that I’ve written. I feel like that really sums up where I’m at right now with this fight. I’m a bit exhausted with the promotion, I’m a bit exhausted with the peanut galleries weighing in, and it’s honestly clouding my emotions regarding this bout.
What’s not clouded is my belief in Conor as an athlete, my respect for Floyd as the greatest of all time, and my hope that this fight lives up to a fraction of the hype being put into it. At its core, this is a fight of bigger, stronger, younger, vs. smaller, faster, older. That should be intriguing enough. I do believe Conor will win this fight with a knockout inside of four rounds. I genuinely do. It’s here; it’s in writing; it’s for all of my readers to see (hi, Dad).
I don’t know what happens after this fight. There’s a lot of moving pieces regarding the state of boxing, the state of the UFC and Conor’s career going forward. My hope is that we, the fans, get the competition we deserve, no matter the outcome. That the discussion going forward is more of “Where were you on the night of August 26th, 2017?” and less of “When do the MLB playoffs start again?”
That’s where I’m at right now. If you’re looking for a fair and just analytical breakdown of this matchup, I cannot recommend Brendan Schaub’s analysis enough. Former Gold Gloves boxer, former NFL player, former UFC fighter and current Showtime analyst. He breaks this fight down with insight and respect for both men you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. To anyone who wants to discuss anything I’ve said here, I’d be more than happy to. Comment, tweet, send me a pigeon, I’m open to it. Thanks for your attention, and join me in praying for a fight of the ages on August 26th.
UPDATE 8/1: After all the talk about glove size, composition and God knows what else, Floyd just posted a picture on Instagram that reads, “McGregor… Let’s fight in 8 oz gloves.” His team has allegedly inquired with the gaming commission about changing the rules of the fight to allow this. I simply do not understand this anymore. WHY help Conor? Why conform to him? Is Conor in Floyd’s head? Is Floyd just playing media games? Or maybe Floyd is looking for the way out a la Jean Girard??? I’m just holding on for dear life folks. This is less of an analytical piece now than it is the diary of a mad white man.
UPDATE 8/11: Mayweather gave an interview to Stephen A. Smith the other day that has my brain so scrambled it’s taken me two days to figure out what to write. In this interview Floyd says that he’s older, he’s a different fighter and he needs to “do what he needs to.” To Floyd, this means coming AT Conor. Floyd Mayweather, the 49-0 greatest defensive boxer of all time, is going to come AT Conor Mcgregor in his 50th career fight while defending his legacy. What?! For those of you who have been under a rock for the last few years, the last person to come at Conor was Jose Aldo. Please see here. K. Is Floyd just trying to drum up more interest? Is he serious? Is he playing games? I do not know. I’m so exhausted. I just need it to be August 26th.
UPDATE 8/11 PART DEUX: Well, shit. Conor’s open workout was today, and he looked sharp. All the media was there, and Conor put on a show working through traditional boxing drills with his own flash of dynamic movement and showmanship. Not coincidentally, the UFC released the (not?)edited footage of the sparring session with Paulie Malignaggi that has received so much attention as of late. For those of you not paying attention two-time former world champion Paulie Malignaggi has been used as Conor as a sparring partner in preparation for Floyd. After a closed 12-round spar in which people from both sides reported violence and whole lot of shit talking, Conor’s camp posted this picture on Instagram:
The image seemingly shows Conor standing over a knocked down Malignaggi. Paulie immediately used every media resource possible to make it known to the world that this image represented him unfairly and the knockdown was in fact a pushdown. Conor’s camp deleted the photo after some fuss, and that was that. Except not. The same day as Conor’s open training session, the UFC and Dana White released two separate clips of the sparring session. One that shows a pretty brutal left from Conor (<3<3<3) and one that shows the seconds leading up to and just after this picture. Check out Dana’s Instagram for these clips. I’ll say this Paulie is older, retired and definitely has lost a step since is world champion days. And yes, I know the clips are obviously edited out of a
Except, no. The same day as Conor’s open training session, the UFC and Dana White released two separate clips of the sparring session. One that shows a pretty brutal left from Conor (<3<3<3) and one that shows the seconds leading up to and just after this picture. Check out Dana’s Instagram for these clips. I’ll say this Paulie is older, retired and definitely has lost a step since his world champion days. And yes, I know the clips are obviously edited out of a 36-minute session. But the reality is Conor is piecing him up! The man that can’t box is boxing! I’m back on Team All-In with this fight now. If you’ll excuse me, I need to call my bookie.
UPDATE 8/16: Well well well friends, things just got a whole lot more interesting. NSAC just approved 8oz gloves for this bout. I honestly don’t know who this benefits and who this hurts. Not sure why Mayweather felt the need to make this change; the obvious reason is to just add to the circus element of this event even more. McGregor has to feel good about this as this has been one of his biggest criticisms of Floyd since day 1. A moral and physical victory for sure. Mayweather bought into the shit talking, moved the glove sizes down, and here we are. LIVE RIGHT NOW (available wherever you get your podcasts when you read this) joerogan.live, or the Joe Rogan Experience has Brendan Schaub on for arguably two of the best minds in MMA breaking this fight down. Give it a listen.