In the build up to Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather, bias obscured predictions from both MMA and boxing communities.
Generally speaking, the MMA side of the equation perhaps bought a little too much into Conor McGregor’s unrivalled self-belief. Some folks genuinely thought that McGregor could achieve the impossible by beating arguably the greatest boxer ever in his professional debut.
A large portion of boxing personalities, however, wasn’t giving McGregor any hope in hell of even being competitive against Floyd Mayweather. Through fits of laughter, crossover star Heather Hardy predicted a fourth round finish for Mayweather while Max Kellerman was certain the UFC star wouldn’t be able to land a single punch.
McGregor lasted until the 10th and landed some very good digs on the undefeated prizefighter. It was competitive, at least in the first few rounds.
— SportsJOE.ie (@SportsJOEdotie) August 28, 2017
Just a quick recap for the half dozen of you who missed 2017’s unmissable event. McGregor took the first three rounds and was competitive for the next couple. Although Mayweather’s gameplan appeared to be to stay a bit gun-shy in the early exchanges to tire his adversary out, he did somewhat struggle with McGregor’s awkward style and was tagged a few times.
When McGregor started gassing around the fifth round, Mayweather utilised his monstrous gas tank, huge experience and lethal skills to dominate. While McGregor tried to make things a little dirty, for example, by using hammerfists in the clinch, Mayweather did things like turn his body away to force the referee to step in and separate.
There was a noticeable drop-off in McGregor’s performance from the eighth round onwards once he had spent all his energy. That’s when Mayweather went on the offensive, put his gloves in the air and began teeing off.
Who saw that coming? Well, someone actually saw it play out exactly like that and it wasn’t a boxing mind or even a striking coach. Famed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner John Danaher deserves the money belt for the prediction he gave before the two warriors stepped inside the ring.
Tonight is the biggest fight show of the year – a fight that has been dismissed by many knowledgeable pundits as farcical but which has nonetheless garnered more viewer interest than any boxing event in a very long time. On the face of it, this is a huge mismatch. Mr Mayweather is unquestionably the finest boxer of his generation and arguably of all time. He is both a master technician and a master tactician in the ring who has made the best boxers of his time look ordinary when matched with him. Mr McGregor is an an outstanding MMA fighter with an amazing penchant for proving doubters wrong. In truth however, this project would be the equivalent of having Mr McGregor compete in an IBJJF jiu jitsu tournament in a gi against say, Rafa Mendes – do you really think he would prevail against Mr Mendes under these conditions? My experience of watching very good MMA athletes spar against elite boxers in the gym is always the same – they are quite competitive for the first 3-4 rounds and do surprisingly well. Then around the 5th round the elite boxer begins to figure out the unorthodox or awkward movement and begins to employ ring craft tactics to tire the MMA athlete by making him work harder than he is, making him miss punches etc etc. around the 8th round a very noticeable shift occurs where the elite boxer takes over. I expect a similar pattern tonight- though probably taking less time, given the incredible skill level of Mr Mayweather. Mr McGregors only advantages are youth and size, but heavier punches are not much use if they are thrown at a target that can't be hit, and Mr Mayweather is as always, in fine shape and has never tired in a fight. I would consider it a fine victory for Mr McGregor if he survived 12 rounds and had some competitive rounds among them. Like most people, I love to see an underdog take on impossible odds and win, so my heart is with Mr McGregor, but my mind knows this is exceedingly unlikely. In a world of uncertainty I will offer you one certainty that I truly believe – however well Mr Mcgregor does in tonight's boxing match, I ASSURE YOU IT WILL BE MUCH BETTER THAN MR MAYWEATHER WOULD DO IN A REAL FIGHT AGAINST MR MCGREGOR.
That last line is also true. Mayweather would not fare nearly as well if he stepped inside the Octagon to fight McGregor in MMA.