By Andreas Hale
Oh, so we’re really doing this?
Apparently, the media cycle has spun into overdrive regarding the possibility of Floyd Mayweather competing in MMA after he told TMZ Sports that he would begin training “soon” with UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
"I'm gonna start soon," Mayweather said. "We've been texting back and forth. We talked a couple times, so we gonna start working out real soon.”
Mayweather took it a step further by grading his wrestling ability and suggesting that, if the money is right, we could soon see him in the Octagon.
"I can wrestle. My wrestling game is not that bad," Mayweather said. "On a scale from 1 to 10, it's probably a 7. And I think we can take it up to a 9 if possible. Of course, my hand game, on a scale of 1 to 10, is 100. My kicking game, on a scale from 1 to 10, is probably a 4.”
Okay, can we stop? Seriously, if people don’t see this as a ploy to keep himself relevant, I’m not sure what to tell you. Ever since Mayweather stopped McGregor, there have been calls for him to step into the Octagon. But at age 41, why would he do this? Money, right? That idea is feasible if the UFC is considering coughing up somewhere in the range of a half billion and ownership stake. Otherwise, there really is no reason for Mayweather to ever compete in the UFC.
But as long as everyone keeps writing about it (guilty as charged), he’ll keep trolling us with the idea. After all, the mere prospect of a Mayweather to MMA story is the biggest story in combat sports and keeps his name on the marquee despite his status as retired. And there’s nothing that Floyd Mayweather loves more than attention. Considering that a fight that was once considered preposterous was made — and earned Mayweather another boatload of money — why not toy with the idea of competing in the UFC?
Nobody should take this seriously. Mayweather is 41 and has yet to even train the nuances of mixed martial arts. As intelligent of a fighter that he is, there’s no way that he’d compete in a fight ill-prepared. He absolutely wouldn’t take the James Toney route and be so arrogant to think that he can walk into a fight and knock his opponent out. We all saw what happened to Toney against Randy Couture and that isn’t lost on Mayweather. It’s also of importance that Mayweather’s son has long been a fan of mixed martial arts, which means that Mayweather isn’t naive when it comes to what can take place in an MMA fight.
Of course, there will be those who think that Mayweather would assume his hands could get him past an average MMA fighter. But the first time that Mayweather’s 41-year-old calf felt a leg kick, he’d realized that he is in over his head. Not to mention that muscle memory would kick in considering that he’s trained as a boxer all his life. He’d have no idea how to defend a takedown, oblique kick or a submission attempt.
But here we are, entertaining the idea that Mayweather would put his legacy at risk for a check.
Because he doesn’t take risks. He’s way too intelligent to do that. He doesn’t do anything without assessing the risk. And if there’s a possibility that he could lose, he’s not going to be involved in it. Some may say that a loss in MMA wouldn’t affect his legacy considering that he’s undefeated as a boxer. That’s wrong. There’s nothing more that anyone wants to see than Mayweather getting his ass kicked. His entire aura is about being unbeaten and that is used to pull stunts like this where he can troll and audience that is yearning for the day that Mayweather is beaten. He feeds off of that energy and turns it into dollar signs. He’ll tease announcements during Mayweather Promotions cards that most people normally wouldn’t watch just to get the additional eyeballs on his product.
It’s also no accident that Mayweather is supposedly training with UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. This is the same Woodley who has been at odds with UFC president Dana White and has gained a significant following of people who want to see him lose simply because he’s been outspoken about race in MMA. Mayweather realizes that pairing himself with Woodley could give the champion a rub and maybe, just maybe, there’s something in the works for Mayweather Promotions to bring on Woodley as their first MMA fighter. It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. But one thing's for sure, this is not arbitrary.
Mayweather can continue teasing this MMA angle for the next year and get traction on it. Pro wrestler turned UFC fighter Phil “CM Punk” Brooks spent a year training mixed martial arts only to be wiped out by Mickey Gall in just over two minutes. But the amount of attention surrounding CM Punk’s UFC debut made headlines from the moment that he signed with the UFC.
Floyd Mayweather is no fool and recognizes that the idea is just as, if not more, tantalizing than the fight itself.
As they say: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But the fire isn’t Mayweather putting on those tiny gloves and stepping into an eight sided cage. The fire is relevancy in combat sports that is monetized in some other way that has nothing to do with the 50-0 fighter putting his health at risk. That’s the only reason why he is training MMA and we’re going to be here writing about it.
He already won.