Conor McGregor maybe entering an unfamiliar ring, but he is facing a very, very familiar situation.
The UFC icon will be the 50th fighter to try to blemish the immaculate record of Floyd Mayweather when the two clash at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada on August 27 (GMT+8).
In most facets, McGregor is looking at mile-high odds when he steps into the boxing ring against the undefeated boxing legend and fight using boxing rules.
Mayweather is 49-0 with 26 KOs throughout more than two decades of bobbing, weaving and generally making fools of his opponents in the ring, while this will be the first time McGregor fights in the rectangular battlefield.
The 40-year-old American has spent his life training for 12-round fights where he uses a lunge-then-retreat tactic that takes the life out of most boxers, while McGregor is used to short fights because a) he wins early and b) MMA fights are usually sluggish and more power-oriented.
McGregor is not only limited by the ring, he is also limited by the rules. He uses boxing in MMA too, but boxing is just one of the many things you need to succeed in his original sport.
As one boxing expert said, the Irishman is like a decorated decathlete racing against Usain Bolt in a 100-meter sprint. McGregor is great in boxing, as most of his 18 KOs in 21 wins came via punches, though he will be against a boxer on an unearthly level against Mayweather.
But, as mentioned earlier, facing great odds is not new to McGregor, whose Cinderella-run in the MMA world has always taken a backseat because of his brashness, his green Lambho, his fuck-you-filled suits, and his attitude that displays him as a douchebag.
Unlike Mayweather, who spent his late adolescent years getting primed up as the next pretty face of boxing, McGregor was a virtual unknown, a small fish on what is then just up-start sport.
Aged 17, McGregor debuted by defeating Gary Morris via TKO (as you guessed, via punches!) in just the second round of their lightweight match at the Cage of Truth 2. He followed that up with a win against Mo Taylor (again a TKO win, via punches).
He then lost his third match, when he tapped out to Artemij Sitenkov at CoT 3. That was the first of three losses, all of which will come via submission. These three losses are what separate McGregor from Mayweather, whose losses came in his amateur days, and we all know that judging in amateur boxing is murky at best.
McGregor recovered from his two losses from his first six fights, then started to make a name for himself after winning eight straight fights mostly because of his precise and powerful striking.
Many said that McGregor would not have translated his power to wins against the better fighters in the UFC, then he destroyed Marcus Brimage in the first round of his UFC debut in 2013.
In 2015, he won his first UFC title when he ended Jose Aldo’s reign as the featherweight king of the biggest MMA competition in the world, beating the Brazilian 13 seconds into the first round of their fight.
Less than a year after his featherweight domination, he moved up to lightweight and wrote UFC history as the first two-weight champion, beating Eddie Alvarez via TKO via (surprise, surprise) punches.
His hitting coach Owen Roddy said it best: “When he was fighting in Cage Warriors, winning two titles there, people said. ‘Yeah but this isn’t the UFC.’ We go to the UFC, he starts knocking people out, and people said ‘Yeah but you can’t win the title’ Then it was ‘you can’t win the lightweight title too’ Now it’s ‘You can’t do it in boxing.’
Nextbet heavily favors Mayweather, but McGregor has a few advantages to his name.
Firstly, McGregor has won every off-field bouts. He has called Mayweather Jr. Mayweather Sr. and vice-versa in Twitter, regularly jabbing on the fact that Mayweather Jr. is 40-year-old.
Secondly, age will truly be a factor in this match, since McGregor, at 29, is in the middle of his prime while Mayweather is at least five years past his.
Then McGregor has the bigger build that gives him a powerful punch, and more muscles to shield him from the beating that Mayweather usually gives his opponents.
Like the first 49 fighters who failed to beat Mayweather, McGregor will have a hard time landing clear blows, but with his power, and the American’s weakened-by-age body, Mayweather might whack Mayweather luckily once or twice every round and cause enough damage to make the undefeated icon stumble.
Lastly, Mayweather himself admits he “lost a step”. He has not fought in two years, and at 40, he does not react as fast as he once did. Precision in strikes might still be there, and so is the power, but he will certainly find it harder to last 12 rounds.
McGregor is at a disadvantage, but he holds in his deck a few cards that can make the momentum lean to his favor.