John Locher/Associated Press
Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are probably going to fight. And they’re probably going to make a whole pile of money to do it.
For Mayweather, it’s likely to be another influx of cash in a career that’s been filled with them. For McGregor, it’s going to be a life-changing sum, the likes of which he could never have imagined seeing from MMA alone.
And yes, it’s partially happening because the UFC is going to free up its biggest star to go chase the payday only boxing can provide.
And yes, Dana White is the figurehead at the front of the organization, the man who knows the fight game and has the ear of the ownership over at the WME-IMG offices.
But no, White is not some white knight allowing this fight to take place out of the goodness of his heart or out of some moral obligation to see McGregor get rich. So don’t let that narrative fool you because despite his work to keep it alive, there’s little altruism in White’s actions.
Time and again, White has said that he won’t stand in the way of McGregor making the kind of money a Mayweather bout will offer, even though it’s bad for UFC business to allow it. While there probably is some kernel of truth buried deep within that loaded proclamation, the purest reality is a bit different.
The fight will be phenomenal business for White and the UFC, with the promotion owning the right to promote McGregor and therefore being set to score a considerable cut of the monies associated with the bout. He’s acknowledged that all the egos involved make the deal hard to structure but also that there is so much cash on the table that it’s hard to imagine how the fight doesn’t come together.
In fact, it’s not hard to imagine a world where a crossover bout between the two biggest combat sports stars alive generates more revenue than any event the UFC has ever done on its own, instantly bolstering the promotion’s coffers in unprecedented fashion on the back of a single fighter and a single fight.
There’s also the notion that a McGregor loss is meaningless to his reign as an MMA monolith, as he’d be losing to the greatest boxer ever as an 0-0 competitor in that realm. Anything less than an instant knockout loss would embolden him to talk about his will to survive against Mayweather, and if he somehow managed to win, well, that just writes itself.
Yet here sits White, ignoring all of that while casually pushing the fight forward and playing it cool the whole way. Ol’ Good Guy Dana, just sitting in his office and washing his hands of any obstructions to McGregor fighting Mayweather because he’s so dang happy to see one of his guys make so much money in one night.
Only we know that’s not true. It never has been before, and there isn’t any reason it is now.
Everyone involved in this is getting paid big time—the UFC, White, McGregor, Mayweather and anyone else you can think to name. Suggesting motivations beyond that, particularly those focused on something as foreign to the fight game as a promoter being honestly good, is a bridge too far.
So stop making that a factor in any of the process. Just book the fight and sell it. That’s the only narrative anyone is interested in anyway.
Follow me on Twitter: @matthewjryder!