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The List: So, what would be considered a 'win' for Conor McGregor against Floyd Mayweather?

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For too long, our writers’ hyper-specific arguments have been confined to the private corridors of the Internet. Welcome to The List, where we take their instant message bickerings, add a little polish, and make them public. So, with the once seemingly impossible boxing match now a reality, what would constitute a “win” for Conor McGregor against heavy favorite Floyd Mayweather? 

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Folks, Conor McGregor has already won

Dann Stupp: This ridiculous idea has actually become reality? Dana White and the UFC are on board?  The media – both MMA and mainstream – can’t stop talking about it? And he’ll make millions upon millions in the process?

Folks, make no mistake about it: Conor McGregor has already won.

He could get knocked out with the first punch of the fight. He could be embarrassed in a 12-round beatdown while looking totally outclassed and not landing a single blow. As long as he doesn’t trip over his giant McNuggets on the way way to ring – as long as he gets in there and the bell rings and the fight becomes official – there’s no way this is a loss for McGregor.

Conor McGregor

“The Notorious” has nothing to lose, essentially. Suffering a defeat to Nate Diaz, shrugging off all of the mockery, and then taking an immediate rematch in 2016? Competing in three weight classes? Actually wanting to fight a long-dominant boxing champ who can make even the worthiest contenders look like chumps? Rag on McGregor all you want (even for never officially defending a UFC belt), but you can’t question his bravery, his bravado or his brass set. Or his willingness and ability to survive embarrassment.

McGregor was willing to take the fight, and he proved he’s probably the only fighter in MMA with the influence, the marketability and the pure audacity to actually get it done.

Despite whatever the official result may be, McGregor is clearly a victor in this whole thing. He’ll still be an MMA draw, fans will pay to watch him, and contenders will line up to fight him. A boxing match is just a (lucrative) side gig for MMA’s biggest star.

Win or lose, we just want to see (expletive) get real

Fernanda Prates: I’ll be the first to admit it: When talks of a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor first started, I was very quick to call BS.

In fact, I was calling BS up until 24 hours ago. Yet, when the fight was finally announced, I wasn’t entirely surprised. If anyone could’ve made this epically ludicrous idea happen, that someone had to be Conor McGregor.

It would take an accomplished athlete, yes. A champion, no doubt. But, more than that, a name that would make this a meeting that transcends the octagon, the ring, and sports, really.

Conor McGregor

In case you haven’t noticed, transcending stuff is sort of McGregor’s thing. And while outclassing world champions inside the octagon helps, we all know that mainstream hype is not entirely up to results. While being good at fighting made McGregor a two-division UFC champ, it’s not what filled his garage with fancy cars and his tailor-made suits with designer pocket squares. It’s not what landed him a “GQ” cover. It’s not what caught Mayweather’s eye.

McGregor is a master at selling himself. And that has happened both in and outside the octagon. Outside, of course, we have the unshakable self-confidence, the sharp tongue, the larger-than-life attitude. But, inside of it, there’s so much damn flair. There’s the taunting, the borderline supernatural sense of timing, the striking that is fascinating to specialists but also appealing to casuals.

And flair is all that McGregor needs to bring into the ring on Aug. 26.

Like the vast majority of people, I don’t think McGregor will win. Yet, we’re all talking about this. Yet, we’ll all watch it. Why? Because whether McGregor wins or not is a mere detail. We’re in it for the spectacle. And as long as the UFC champ can provide it both in the way he sells this and the way he (most likely) loses, I don’t think anybody will be let down.

It may be boxing, but McGregor’s still MMA’s representative – and he needs to represent

Ben Fowlkes: Financially, this is a guaranteed win for both men. The only way McGregor can lose that part is if he gets himself sued for kicking Mayweather in the head (even, mad street cred to offset the huge monetary penalty).

But let’s not kid ourselves about the way MMA fans are bound to view this. We’re a defensive, territorial, proud bunch. This boxing vs. MMA argument has been brewing for years, and this won’t settle the argument, but it is likely to be a prominent feature in it for years to come.

Conor McGregor

For that reason, McGregor can’t go in there and get clowned and call it a win just because he dared to try and got paid to fail. If he wants to come away from this as something other than a wealthy punchline, he needs to show us something.

That’s not to say that he needs to win. Not unless he wants to capture the title of Greatest Athlete on This Planet and Others, according to UFC President Dana White. But he needs to acquit himself in some fashion, whether it’s by lasting the distance or gritting out a beating or even just worrying Mayweather with a couple solid blows. He needs to show that he belongs in there, even more so because he actually doesn’t.

MMA fans can accept defeat here. They can even accept a pretty one-sided one, because hey, you know Mayweather wouldn’t have the guts to turn the tables and fight McGregor in MMA. That’s something to hold onto, and I suspect we’ll end up clinging to it like a drowning sailor to a piece of driftwood. But if McGregor doesn’t want to be the guy who let MMA down, he’s got to give us a little more than that.

Just making the king bleed would be a win for McGregor

Steven Marrocco: Conor McGregor has two inches of reach on Floyd Mayweather, Mayweather has problems with southpaws, and anything can happen when you put two men in a ring together. That’s the marketing material for this mismatch, if Dana White’s initial sell is any indication.

But what’s the reality for McGregor, a guy who will have two months to sharpen the weapons Mayweather has been sharpening his whole life? Does McGregor wait for Mayweather, a defensive genius, to overextend and hit him with the straight left? Does he try to muscle into the clinch and fight inside? Does he potshot and hope to take home a decision? What does a victory look like?

The short answer is, anything really. There’s no way for McGregor to make up for that lost time, and his inexperience in boxing in no way helps him going into the ring with Mayweather, as some have suggested. He’s playing a game that bears some similarities to his usual sport, but he’s in a completely different world in practice. With the margins for error much slimmer in the boxing ring than the octagon, he’ll need to be faster and more accurate than ever before.

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz

Most experts concede Mayweather is not as fast as he once was, which is no surprise for a 40-year-old who’s been competing most of his life. The boxing champ is also returning after nearly two years of, shall we say, a less than monastic life. Whatever you might say about the skill gap, time and hard living are two factors that work in McGregor’s favor, even if the potential gap between Mayweather’s worst day and his best looks insurmountable.

If there is any disadvantage to exploit, it’s in the early moments of the fight. Should McGregor connect early with that powerful left hand, he could scramble Mayweather’s brain and change the course of the action. He does have something of a mystical ability to hurt foes with punches, even if those fists will be covered with a lot more padding this time around. Many a foe have failed to do this, of course, but McGregor has made a career of upending expectations.

I expect Mayweather to play it safe against McGregor, avoiding as many meaningful exchanges as possible while scoring points on the outside. That’s what you do when you’re an aging fighter who has to rely on experience and technique to win the day, and especially when you’re considered the world’s best boxer with a massive legacy to protect. I would consider it more of a victory if McGregor is able to hurt Mayweather with a good punch, or even a series of punches. To wound the king and to make him bleed, like those doomed Spartans back in the day – that might be MMA’s biggest statement in this sideshow attraction.

A trip to the scorecards seems like the result of a plodding, tactical fight, in which no one comes out looking aces.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.



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