The never-ending feud between boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and burgeoning MMA star Ronda Rousey continued Thursday night as Mayweather attempted to plug his "final" fight with Andre Berto on ESPN's SportsCenter. The questioning, as it apparently must, turned to Rousey, who competes in a different sport, in a different weight class and is a different gender than the boxing legend.
Required to say something, he did his best to smack away the question, and perhaps Rousey herself, like a pesky fly.
"I've yet to see any MMA fighter, or other boxer, make over $300 million in 36 minutes," Mayweather said. "When she can do that, then call me."
"I wonder how Floyd feels being beaten by a woman for once," Rousey pondered aloud, delighting bloggers and creating a viral wave of stories across the Internet.
No doubt this latest remark will keep the feud on the front pages for another week. But who does this benefit? And what is its purpose? Bleacher Report's version of Sonny and Cher, lead writers Jeremy Botter and Jonathan Snowden, explore the only question that matters here: Is this worth all the time we've invested in it, or is Rousey vs. Mayweather the least interesting feud in all of combat sports?
Jonathan: It's an extension of an ongoing battle between MMA fighters and Mayweather, a battle Mayweather mostly wins by completely ignoring people who are several hundred rungs below him on the long ladder of stardom. For years, MMA fighters have been calling Mayweather out. And for years, he's barely deigned to answer. Why should he? He's the biggest star in a completely different sport. The whole thing feels a little bit like a little brother trying hard to get big brother's attention. And that's not a good look for a sport trying to convince people it's on the path to world domination.
Rousey, however, has achieved a level of stardom that makes her hard to ignore. Mayweather has to respond in some way—and so we get this, whatever this is.
On a personal level, I hate it because it means I have to answer speculative questions from mainstream radio outlets about who would win a potential fight between the two. And that is not a question I find particularly interesting or a premise I think we should spend much time indulging.
Considering Mayweather's domestic violence issues and MMA's own serious issues, do we really want to open the Pandora's Box of intergender combat? What do you think, Jeremy?
Jeremy: I'm with you all the way here. I groan internally whenever I'm on the radio with some host who thinks that asking if this is a fight that's ever going to happen is a great question. I've taken to simply answering, "No," and then waiting for the silence to end so we can move on to a better topic.
Because it's not just that this is a dumb topic. It's that this is the dumbest topic of them all. As you mentioned, there are far more serious things to discuss when it comes to mixed martial arts. There are many issues facing this sport, and there are also legitimate fights coming up that deserve our consideration.
And yet, because we have professional media trolls who keep bringing this stupid subject up, and because we have media in the MMA sphere who know that a "Rousey vs. Mayweather" headline of any variation will pull in hundreds of thousands of clicks, we're stuck rehashing a version of this story every few months.
It's as though MMA can't stand on its own without mentioning the highest-paid athlete in the world. It's like you said: MMA is screaming for attention, and the best way to say "Hey, look at me, you guys!" is by invoking Mayweather's name. It's an instant way to get attention. It's also disingenuous, because there isn't a single intelligent person in the world who thinks this is a thing that should happen.
And yet, here we are, discussing Ronda and Floyd again. The circle that never ends, the train with no destination. I just wish it would stop.
Jonathan: This isn't just a media problem though. The UFC is a major driver of this narrative and has been for years. Dana White in particular seems to take great joy in describing what Rousey would do to Mayweather in a street fight. Announcer Joe Rogan has said she'd beat half of the men in her weight class.
It's like they aren't happy with Rousey simply being the greatest female MMA fighter in the world. Note how often she's compared to men.
White has even described her as "like a dude trapped in this beautiful body." Being the best woman in the sport doesn't feel like a big enough accomplishment, at least in the eyes of the UFC. The shadow of gender looms over everything. And that's kind of a shame.
Jeremy: I'm sure some in the UFC would point to the fact that women are even in the UFC as a sign of forward progress, at least given how White used to scoff at the notion of women fighting in his precious Octagon.
But that's a silly notion. Perhaps the talent level of the women's divisions overall is not where it will eventually be. But Rousey is an athlete beyond compare, world class in every facet. That she's beautiful doesn't matter one bit, or at least it shouldn't. You've watched her even during warm-ups; she is a finely tuned machine the likes of which we've never seen in mixed martial arts.
She's not a dude trapped in a woman's body. She's one of the world's best athletes, period, and she puts nearly every "dude" fighter on the UFC's roster to shame with her athleticism. And it's such a damn shame that we are constantly seeking to compare her to Mayweather rather than accept the fact that she's just head and tails above her competition.
She does not need to be compared to men. She needs to be compared to Billie Jean King and other landscape-altering athletes. In 25 years, I suspect Ronda Rousey will be remembered as an important figure for what she did for female athletes in mixed martial arts.
Mayweather? He'll be remembered as a dude who made a lot of money putting on boring fights. Rousey doesn't need to be compared to that guy. Not now, and not ever.
Jonathan: At this point, it would make more sense for the UFC and Rousey to put more effort into building fights between Rousey and other women instead of a fight between Ronda and Floyd that shouldn't happen—and won't.
Last week, we made note of the UFC's paltry efforts when it comes to promoting women who aren't Ronda Rousey. That's kind of a big deal.
Let's talk about Miesha Tate. Let's talk about Holly Holm. If you're blessed with endless patience, let's even talk about Cyborg. But one name that shouldn't be mentioned together with MMA, ever again, is Floyd Mayweather. The final bell rang for that conversation some time ago.
Jonathan Snowden and Jeremy Botter cover combat sports for Bleacher Report.