by Andreas Hale
Floyd Mayweather is making headlines again after a pair of videos of the 50-0 boxer steps into an octagon cage in an effort to tease a possible UFC fight. Conor McGregor — along with many other UFC fighters — saw immediate dollar signs flash in the air at the opportunity to welcome Money Mayweather to the UFC.
Everybody is talking about it. Casual combat sports fans are littering message boards and social media with their opinion while talking heads on sports shows weigh out the opportunity.
But here’s the thing: Floyd Mayweather is absolutely trolling us. And if you are too silly to realize it, shame on you.
I know, nobody thought Mayweather-McGregor would ever happen, right?
But this is so much different.
You see, Floyd Mayweather is a low risk, high reward kind of guy at this stage of his life. The soon to be 41-year-old may have come out of “retirement” to face Conor McGregor, but it truly was the easiest payday that he could have ever been handed. A nine-figure payday to face a UFC fighter with an 0-0 boxing record? It doesn’t get much easier than that. How could he possibly turn it down? More importantly, there was literally zero chance that the UFC lightweight champion would be able to defeat Mayweather in his domain. Who could blame Mayweather for accepting the epic payday, seeing his record improve to a round 50-0 and not having to worry about anything that the Irishman could have offered.
Yes, there’s a possibility that the UFC’s parent company WME-IMG throws a similar bag at the feet of Mayweather to compete in the Octagon. But Mayweather knows how rough the UFC’s 2017 is and the levels of desperation are peaking to find a way to draw attention back to the wonderful world of mixed martial arts after McGregor brought a ton of attention to the so-called “dying” sport of boxing.
How could Mayweather turn down a nine-figure payday? Well, whether you believe it or not, his legacy is more important than a payday. It may sound silly on its face, but you have to realize that the reason that Mayweather is able to rake in the dough with extracurricular activities is because of his unblemished record. He’s a life long winner who won’t put himself in position to take a loss. It’s almost miraculous considering the patchwork judging of boxing that has often led to bizarre decisions. However, Mayweather has slipped the controversial loss just as well as he has dodged punches throughout his career. Nevertheless, the fact that Mayweather has been unbeaten isn’t just circumstance, it is Floyd Mayweather. The reason he became the highest paid athlete in the world had everything to do with that unblemished record.
Why would he risk it all to step into the Octagon? He would be helping the UFC more than he would be helping himself. Sure, he would stand to make a massive amount of money. But the payday the UFC would receive and the momentum it would give the mixed martial arts promotion is just as important as the single event that Mayweather would compete in. It would also give Conor McGregor the opportunity to gain payback after the 10th round TKO loss to Mayweather.
"If it is (a ploy), it will follow him for the rest of his days, that he did not do it,” McGregor said in an interview with Adam Glyn. “I said I would do it and I stepped up and I done it. It’s his time now.”
Well, no, not really.
Honestly, Mayweather did McGregor a favor by allowing him to make more money than he ever would in the UFC by competing in a boxing match. It’s no like McGregor was putting his unblemished record on the line. The truth of the matter is that it was Mayweather with the most to lose. But in an MMA fight, Mayweather still has more to lose because of his unbeaten record that he cares about so dearly. An embarrassing loss in a UFC fight would definitely hurt Mayweather’s marketability. Legacy is everything to Mayweather. And with legacy comes the money.
The most intelligent thing that Mayweather continues to do is find ways to remain relevant even when he’s not fighting. His visibility alone dwarfs just about every fighter in both MMA and boxing. And this is just another way to stay visible. Rest assured that the next Mayweather Promotions boxing match will have an “exclusive interview” with Mayweather about his future that will cause people to tune in for the fights just to see what he has to say. That helps his promotional company because the bottom line is the views. Meanwhile, you can expect Mayweather to continue to goad the MMA community by putting together a string of words that includes “you never know” and “for the right price, maybe” in there.
Yes, it’s the biggest joke in boxing. Somehow, the only people in on it are hardcore boxing fans. Ever since Mayweather-McGregor happened, people believe that anything is possible and that Mayweather would do just about anything for the right price. But Mayweather is a very calculated businessman who does nothing for the short term. Everything has an effect that lasts far beyond the fight itself. And the risk is the most important part. Mayweather has prided himself for taking little damage in his boxing career and that’s not by accident. So why would he ever put himself in harm’s way at this point in his career.
So let the world continue to talk as Mayweather sits back and laughs. Who knows, maybe he can drive the price up to the point where there is no way he can turn it down. But it’s highly unlikely, unless he becomes the owner of the UFC.