Conor McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion, is mounting a campaign against a ghost. Floyd Mayweather is not going to fight him, regardless of how much McGregor keeps bringing up a match with the retired boxing superstar.
Mayweather himself has said so. So, too, has Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, as has UFC president Dana White.
McGregor himself is aware of all of that, but he’s not taking his foot off the accelerator.
At an event in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday, McGregor insisted he’s not afraid of Mayweather and believes he could win.
Jeff Sherman at the Westgate Las Vegas sports book made Mayweather a minus-2500 favorite to defeat McGregor in a boxing match. He has McGregor at plus-1100. That means a bettor would need to lay down $2,500 to earn a $100 profit on a bet on Mayweather. On the other side, a $100 bet on McGregor would reap an $1,100 profit were he to win.
In an interview posted on his YouTube channel McGregor pointed out that Mayweather was the one who called him out.
“I don’t care about Floyd,” McGregor said. “I don’t give a [expletive] about Floyd. I don’t give a [expletive] about Mayweather. I don’t fear no man, under no rule set. I’m sitting there minding my own business, dominating true fighting, and Floyd calls me out, like I’d be afraid of him or something like that.
“But what it done was, it opened up my eyes a little bit. I was like, ‘Hold on, maybe I can pursue this.’ ”
The answer to all of this may lie in that statement. Remember, after McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 last month in New York, he said he wanted equity in the UFC or he wouldn’t fight again.
He obtained a California boxing license, though he’d still need to be approved as an opponent for Mayweather. And given that he’s had no boxing experience, either amateur or pro, it’s unlikely any major commission would approve such a bout.
But as White said to Yahoo Sports in an interview last week, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t one which would approve it.
If such a fight ever happened, it would almost certainly have to be in a major fight state, such as Nevada, California, Texas, New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, where ticket prices could be priced high enough to cover what would undoubtedly be astronomical purses.
A venue in, say, Oklahoma simply couldn’t pay the site fee and wouldn’t be able to recoup it because it couldn’t price tickets high enough to recover that.
But beyond that, McGregor is under contract to the UFC and he would need its permission in order to sign to fight Mayweather.
“It ain’t happening,” White said to Yahoo Sports.
That’s essentially the same thing that Ellerbe said during a conversation about it. He noted that McGregor is under contract to the UFC, that Mayweather is retired and not interested in fighting and that he’s tired of wasting his time being asked about something that isn’t going to happen.
He said he has had no discussions about any potential Mayweather bouts, including a rematch with Manny Pacquiao. But he did his best Monday to shut down talk of a Mayweather-McGregor bout.
“This is the bottom line, and that is that Conor McGregor is under contract with the UFC, period, point blank, and he can’t do anything on his own without the approval of Dana White and the brass at WME/IMG,” Ellerbe said. “They’re not going to let him do anything like this. The fact is, they didn’t invest $4.2 billion into that company to have the face of their brand [destroyed].”
McGregor is a shrewd businessman, and he’s found a way to get the public to keep talking about him even when he said he’s taking time off while he awaits the birth of his first child. His girlfriend, Dee Devlin, is pregnant and expected to deliver the child in the first half of next year.
McGregor was unclear when the birth is scheduled, saying both March and May in an interview after UFC 205. But he was clear he wanted to take time off and didn’t plan to fight until after his child is born.