EXPLAINED: How Conor McGregor has taken the first step towards fighting Floyd Mayweather 6 years ago

EXPLAINED: How Conor McGregor has taken the first step towards fighting Floyd Mayweather

Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather is becoming more and more plausible.

What started as a complete flight of fancy, a hypothetical "who would win?" debate argued by drunken fight fans during lulls in pub conversation, is actually starting to gather a legitimate head of steam.


On Thursday it emerged that McGregor had been granted a licence with the California State Athletic Commission, which is a bigger deal than many might believe.

Some have argued that the only reason that 'The Notorious' applied for a boxing licence was to put pressure on the UFC by tentatively threatening to enter the realm of professional boxing.


But what is more likely is that his licence will now act as the first key step in the biggest pay-per-view combat sports spectacle of all time.

Ever since the first back-and-forth between the UFC lightweight champion and the boxing great, naysayers have pointed to the seemingly watertight UFC contract hanging over the Irishman, which would have precluded him from accepting a bout that didn't fall under the UFC's banner.

But, as pointed out in tremendous detail by Bloody Elbow's John S. Nash, the fact that McGregor is now a California-licensed boxer would technically mean that he is covered and protected by the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, the federally recognised set of regulations which defends the rights and welfare of boxers against coercive provisions.

Section 10 of the Act is dedicated to the protection of boxers from coercive contracts and suggests that any measure taken to deny a boxer the chance to compete could be perceived as a restraint of trade.


Conor McGregor with Owen Roddy 9/11/2016

Standard UFC contracts include a clause that ties the organisation's athletes down to exclusive UFC rights over any "mixed martial art, martial art, boxing, professional wrestling, or any other fighting competition or exhibition."

This could be perceived as a restraint of trade over fighters who are contracted to the UFC and also licensed boxers, a scenario in which McGregor now finds himself.

That could make McGregor's UFC contract tantamount to illegal when it comes to prohibiting him from any boxing matches.


The fact that McGregor's boxing licence was granted by the California State Athletic Commission also adds another interesting element as a clause comes into effect that may mean his fighting services may not be restricted to UFC competition in that particular state.

UFC 202 - Weigh-in

McGregor has never fought in California, and therefore is unlikely to have sat before the commission with the UFC which could invalidate his contract's prohibition of a boxing match in that state.

Under § 222 of the California Code of Regulations, it's noted that: "Unless otherwise directed by the commission, a contract between a boxer and a manager or a boxer and a promoter is not valid unless both parties appear at the same time before the commission or a commission representative and it receives written approval. No contract shall be approved between a manager and a boxer or a promoter and a boxer for a period exceeding five years. No option to extend the initial period shall be permitted."

Former UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey took advantage of that regulation in 2014 when she was victorious in a contract dispute with Fight Tribe Management. The CSAC ruled that, because Rousey and her manager never sat before the commission together the fighter-manager contract was therefore invalid in that state.


McGregor's fighter-promoter relationship with the UFC could well go in the direction of Rousey's legal battle which ended in her fighter-manager relationship being deemed invalid.

The first step has been taken with the application for and subsequent granting of a boxing licence in California for McGregor.

Conor McGregor 18/7/2014

If plans for much-publicised super-fight with Mayweather are officially announced then the next step would likely be for him to file for declaratory relief under the Ali Act in the hope that the courts will rule in his favour if the UFC were to file an injunction following the announcement of any boxing match, which is the expected course of action now.

Even if a lawsuit from the UFC against the potential loss of earnings is ongoing, the declaratory relief would grant McGregor the time and ability to fight in a monster, pay-per-view record smashing bout against Mayweather, as again pointed out in Bloody Elbow's report.

Things could get messy as the UFC's new owners, WME-IMG, are notoriously litigious and would throw every imaginable hurdle in McGregor's path to deny him that cross-sport payday.

Who knows what to expect when it comes to McGregor's career? But now he is not a lone force fighting against the powerhouse that is the UFC. Now he's a CSAC-licensed boxer and therefore will have the backing of the Association of Boxing Commissions, theoretically at the very least.

This time last year, who would have been able to predict that he'd have smashed Jose Aldo in 13 seconds, lost and won in a pair of welterweight fights against Nate Diaz and claimed the UFC lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez before seeing his featherweight title stripped away.

It's impossible to predict his next move, which is where his appeal comes from.

Who's to say that his decision to step away from MMA until next summer so that he can be with his girlfriend during her pregnancy and birth of the couple's firstborn doesn't coincide with the chance to concentrate on his boxing in more detail in training?

What we do know is that McGregor is the most shrewd businessman in mixed martial arts history and he will be well aware that being issued a CSAC licence was the first step on this journey.

Michael Lundy joins Wooly for a wide-ranging discussion that starts with a chat about Ger Loughnane, dodgy transfers and Davy Fitzgerald's training methods. Subscribe here on iTunes.