UFC Fighter Turns To Boxing Ring In Anticipated Match
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
So there's been, like, speculation going on for a year now. There's been all this trash talk. And now a date has been set for a prize fight. A really...
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
This is between you and me, right David?
INSKEEP: No, no.
GREENE: No one wants to see that.
GREENE: It's a really weird fight. It's not between us. It's between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor. Mayweather, of course, is a boxer. McGregor is a popular UFC fighter from Ireland.
INSKEEP: UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship, meaning McGregor is a mixed martial artist. But it's a boxing match under boxing rules, so no kicking or wrestling or choking like...
GREENE: That's right.
INSKEEP: ...David Greene normally does.
GREENE: Of course, Dylan Hernandez covers sports for the LA Times, and he has no doubt about the outcome here.
DYLAN HERNANDEZ, BYLINE: You know, I've seen some video of McGregor sparring against boxers. And he's not very good. You know, he looks like an amateur, which is basically what he is. So yeah, you know, it's two big names. They're going to talk a lot of trash. The buildup's going to be exciting. But once they get in the ring, you're going to see - even though Floyd Mayweather is now 40 years old, you're going to see a guy who's world class at boxing and a guy who's really an amateur.
GREENE: So what is in it for Conor McGregor if he's going to get his butt kicked?
HERNANDEZ: Money (laughter) you know, keep in mind, they call this prize fighting. You fight for a prize, you know. And especially in this case for McGregor, it's actually not a bad deal because, you know, Mayweather's not really known as a big puncher. So, you know, yeah, you get in there; you'll get embarrassed.
But say if he makes $100 million. You know what? That's much more than the 10 or 15, say, which is probably his top purse in UFC. You know, I think it was about four or five years ago McGregor was still picking up welfare checks. He's really a guy that's kind of scraped himself up from the bottom. And I think he just views this as a huge payday.
GREENE: And what about for the sport of boxing, Dylan? What does it tell us about boxing today that the - that people in the sport are willing to to do something that seems so crazy?
HERNANDEZ: Well, boxing promoters - nothing is ever too shameful for them to do. I mean, they'll push the boundaries as far as they can. You know, I really think that this is more a reflection on the audience. What is it that they say - right? - people get the kind of government they deserve. You know, I always kind of thought that the same thing applied to flights.
I mean, the reason this is happening is because people are paying for it. This is a case where you have two names, and hey, they're going to fight. So people are getting excited. But I think what it really kind of points to is just how little education I guess there is in the population in general about boxing because anybody that knows anything about this sport will know that this is not a real fight.
GREENE: OK, so this crazy fight that many are calling absurd, it's still expecting to get a huge audience. Is that because people just, like, think there's the off chance that something bizarre will happen? Like McGregor might get so desperate, he just ignores the rules and starts his martial arts stuff in the ring?
HERNANDEZ: Yeah, I mean, honestly that's what would've made me interested. But, you know, as details of - you know, the contract have emerged, what we've learned is that McGregor's going to face a stiff financial penalty if he does anything weird, like kick or elbow.
GREENE: I see - money be taken away. That would be a disincentive.
HERNANDEZ: Right, I mean, I do think that there are a lot of MMA fans actually that think McGregor really has a chance. You know, because they've seen McGregor as this great competitor, you know, within their sport. And they think, OK well, this guy's going to be able to make the adjustments just like he was able to do in this fight against that guy.
But, you know, I think people watch too many "Rocky" movies where it feels like, you know, desire can kind of overcome skill. Say if the two guys are evenly matched, yeah, I'll take the guy with the bigger heart. But at the end of the day, this is still a sport. This is still an art. And I just don't think that there's really any chance here whatsoever of Conor McGregor winning this fight.
GREENE: Dylan, thanks so much for talking to us and enjoy the fight or not I guess.
HERNANDEZ: (Laughter) Will do, thank you.
GREENE: That's Dylan Hernandez from the LA Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.