Floyd Mayweather vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov. It's happening. Or so says Mayweather in a quick walk-and-talk with TMZ Sports.
Mayweather's last bout inside the squared circle was a history-making crossover extravaganza with Conor McGregor. The 50-0 defensive wizard now seems to want to tackle the new lightweight king of the UFC.
But is this something that will actually happen or is it more hot air from the boxing legend? To take a deeper dive into this potential affair, Bleacher Report's Steven Rondina and Nathan McCarter will discuss the bout and the hoopla that would surround another pugilistic mismatch.
OK, Steven, can this social media-driven fight even possibly become a reality? And will it?
Steven: I'm not going to say this is definitely going to happen, but in this post-Mayweather vs. McGregor world, can we honestly say it's not a possibility?
We have a pretty good read on the direction the Endeavor- and Dana White-helmed UFC is going right now. From the new ESPN broadcasting deal and its divestment in UFC Fight Pass to its larger matchmaking philosophy, it's pretty clear the promotion feels like the "growth" stage of the sport, which prioritized structure and accessibility, is done stateside.
Now it's all about extracting as much money as possible, and you're not going to find many better ways to do so than this.
I'm not a fan of this fight on any level and, frankly, it doesn't even have the out-of-the-ring circus appeal that redeemed Mayweather-McGregor, which earned 4.3 million pay-per-view buys. All that said, I'd peg its floor on PPV in the ballpark of 1.5 million buys. How many fights could the UFC put together that would match the revenue it would get from this match?
Nathan: I certainly don't think this fight will happen. Even with McGregor vs. Mayweather, when it first started, most everyone scoffed. Myself included. But there was still a hint of "Well, maybe" lingering over the prospect. Here, there is no lingering. There is nothing in the ether about this fight.
To that end, there is only one fight the UFC can do to make its revenue, and it's the Khabib-Conor rematch.
Sure, Brock Lesnar's potential return will generate a lot of PPV buys and general buzz. McGregor-Diaz III would be huge. But nothing could compare when it comes to factoring in all the elements, such as live gate and beyond, except the Khabib-Conor post-melee meeting. That is the only one.
I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't ask: If the fight were to happen, God help us all, is there any redeeming factor to it?
Steven: Not that I can think of!
As I touched upon, Mayweather vs. McGregor wasn't a spectacular fight, but it was generally fun from start to finish. The build had more than a few entertaining moments (though they came side-by-side with some problematic ones), and the fight itself kept me on the edge of my seat, even as Mayweather took control down the stretch.
The problem with Mayweather vs. Nurmagomedov rumors are they ignore a key fact... Conor brought an audience, Khabib doesn’t... And don’t say Russia to me... I know Russia is huge and they got rich AF people, but they don’t travel to Vegas and that’s where Floyd fights. Stop it.
Khabib won't be able to replicate any of that. There wouldn't be any exciting press conferences, there wouldn't be any fun theatrics in the ring, and there wouldn't be that faint hint of uncertainty about the outcome that McGregor offered.
This would be about as blatant of a cash grab as a fight can get.
Nathan: That would be my biggest issue with this proposed bout. With McGregor, there was the possibility, however slight, that he could pull off the win. If Mayweather was too slow, if he got cocky, or whatever the case may have been. There was a hint of doubt.
There is no hint of anything but Mayweather strolling to the ring for a glorified one-sided sparring session. Striking is not Nurmagomedov's strength, and even if it were, he is not in the same galaxy, let alone league, as Mayweather. There is always a "puncher's chance," but Nurmagomedov is not a puncher.
I think we know that if the fight did come to fruition, it would be sanctioned because of the money to be made, but realistically this is exactly the kind of fight that should not be sanctioned by an athletic commission. The disparity between the two is night and day. Beating Khabib offers Mayweather nothing but a quick and easy payday. There is nothing to add to a legacy. There is no big show to be had. It would be a complete waste of time to sit and watch Mayweather style over a foe who has absolutely no chance of winning.
McGregor offered fun. Khabib offers nothing of value to casual fans. We need to stop entertaining these wild notions.
Are there potential MMA vs. boxing crossover bouts that hold some intrigue? Sure. This isn't one of them. But that doesn't mean we have a clear picture of what the future holds for any of these parties. Steven, what does come next in the midst of all the fallout from the post-fight brawl?
Steven: It ultimately depends on whose angle you want to look at it from.
Following his smashing success both in the cage and at the box office, Nurmagomedov should be pushing as hard as he can for a rematch with McGregor. It's easily the biggest payday available to him in the cage, and if there's a quick turnaround, there's basically no opportunity for McGregor to make the adjustments that would give him a real chance at winning. A rematch in 2019 would be the perfect blend of risk and reward for the Russian.
If I'm the UFC, however, I'm letting that fight stew a bit longer. McGregor already has one foot out the cage door at this point, and getting trucked by Nurmagomedov twice in one year would be a great way to shove him out entirely. There are plenty of other options that are safer for McGregor and still quite lucrative.
As for Mayweather...please just stay retired.