Rumors continue to swirl about the mythical Conor McGregor – Floyd Mayweather mega-fight, with The Irish Sun reporting that the fighters’ respective camps have reached a multi-million dollar agreement. The negotiations are allegedly being held up by a third party (UFC?) but it appears that both fighters are down to do battle for an enormous pile of cash.
While no documents have been signed, this is the closest we’ve come to the (imaginary) fight manifesting itself – not unlike the Higgs-Boson particle, which took 50 years to actually observe after its existence was theorized. If the fight does happen, there will be nothing imaginary about size of the checks that McGregor and Mayweather stand to collect from the bout.
While Mayweather is technically retired, he hasn’t retired from being rich or making truckloads of money. This is a guy who made $220 million from fighting a washed-up Pacquiao, or about $5 million per minute of “action” (which is in quotes because that fight was trash – pretty sure I bootlegged it and still overpaid).
McGregor, whose mortality has been proven inside the octagon, has managed to retain the luster that Ronda Rousey lost as MMA’s chosen one. He’s transcended MMA into pop culture, much like Floyd did with boxing. Show a picture of Conor McGregor to a random passerby on the street and chances are they’ll recognize him. Do the same with Anderson Silva and you’ll get a lot of blank stares. Conor throws up a video of him sparring on the Gram and the whole world goes nuts.
Any real fan – pugilist or mixed martial arts – knows that their skill sets aren’t comparable. Floyd would dominate in a boxing ring and McGregor destroy Mayweather in an octagon. But it’s not about winning or losing, or even boxing or mixed martial arts, it’s about one thing: money.
WME-IMG’s $4 billion takeover of UFC last year took MMA into the mainstream, for better or for worse. Some may argue that the proliferation of the sport is a good thing. Others will say that corporate interest has commodified – diluted, even – the essence of MMA. It used to be about two guys fighting until one remained; a primordial test of merit.
That’s been obfuscated by a litany of stakeholders that have bought into the sport. The almighty dollar has become the ultimate prize, eclipsing pride and the right to say you’re the best. Such is the nature of capitalism, but sport used to exist quasi-autonomously; halfway outside of capitalism like Hong Kong. No longer. The Olympics are a train wreck. The World Cup is even worse. The fact that rumors about an imaginary fight between two fighters who don’t compete in the same sport dominate the airwaves merely speaks to the fact that sports aren’t about winning anymore, they’re about money.
If that gets you down, perhaps these ring girls will cheer you up: