We asked the MMA community – a selection of current pros, former pros, Hall of Famers and coaches – for their take on this Saturday’s hybrid super-fight between boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial artist Conor McGregor. Here’s what they had to say about a controversial, polarizing spectacle that has the whole world talking…
Check out part 2 to read predictions from the boxing community.
UFC Hall of Famer
What is Conor thinking stepping into a high-level boxing match with an undefeated fighter that has been a champion for so long? It’s probably not the wisest decision he’s made. I think he’s got one or two things going for him, though. I think he’s a long and rangy fighter for that weight class and I don’t think Mayweather is used to fighting a guy as long as he is. He’s also unorthodox. He’s not going to throw punches like every other boxer Floyd has faced in the last 15 years. Those things give him a slight chance, but I think that’s all he’s got. A one in ten chance.
I think Mayweather respects him technically. He’s the one who has the most to lose here. If I’d have messed around with James Toney (at UFC 118) and lost that fight, how does that make us look as mixed martial artists? I think that same pressure is on Floyd. If he lets a guy with a 0-0 record in boxing walk up in there and touch him and hurt him, what does that do to his legacy and boxing? It will be interesting. I’ll be watching. I think we’re all going to be watching. There’s too much hype and interest.
Undefeated UFC featherweight
It’s apples and oranges. A lot of people aren’t realizing this is a boxing match. Don’t get me wrong, Conor has power. If he catches him clean, he could knock him out. I’m not going to count him out completely. But we are talking about Floyd Mayweather, the best ever. The best defensive fighter of all-time. He is going to fight an MMA fighter. Conor is a very high-level boxer for MMA but this is the best ever we are talking about. I don’t see Floyd Mayweather losing to anybody, let alone an MMA fighter.
Veteran of 90 pro MMA fights
This match makes no sense because it’s two different animals. They are fighting over what, boxing vs. MMA? Conor is very inexperienced in traditional boxing as far as his footwork, hand speed and accuracy. All too quickly people forget about James Toney in the cage with Randy Couture and we all know how that ended. I personally feel this is an even worse case scenario due to the fact Conor McGregor has problems with the boxers in MMA, let alone an Olympic medalist and a guy who has clowned the best boxes around the world. The only time when he wins is when he’s going to make a very large deposit in the bank. I personally think it is horrible for an MMA vs. boxing business mindset. There is no conceivable way Conor McGregor is going to beat Floyd Mayweather, who is 49-0. I mean, sure, it makes financial sense for him, but let me ask you: will we see Conor McGregor fight in MMA ever again after he clears about $40-50 million after taxes? There are plenty of fighters who wish they could fight Floyd Mayweather for any amount of money that was offered to them. Hell, for that amount of money I’d fight them both of them at the same damn time.
Former MMA and boxing pro
Mayweather by stoppage by the sixth round. If the fight goes any longer it will be an embarrassment to boxing.
“Floyd Mayweather is just on a whole different level. Conor will be the bigger, stronger guy, so his best chance is to try and land something in the early rounds. After that, he will start to slow down and Mayweather will have him figured out and then begin to pick him apart.”
It will be Mayweather by unanimous decision all day.
UFC welterweight contender
If it’s just a boxing match I don’t think Conor McGregor stands anything more than a puncher’s chance.
Former Bellator title challenger
Conor McGregor is too slow to handle the speed and elusiveness of Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather uses the five Ds to achieve the victory: duck, dodge, dip, dive and decision.
Mayweather is a legend of his sport and I don’t see anyone winning against him. McGregor is a legend of MMA as well. He did stuff nobody has done before, but even though he’s the best at boxing in MMA that doesn’t mean you’re the best in boxing. It’s a different sport. It’s so different. You can’t compete with the best. If Mayweather went to MMA he’d be beaten in a few seconds. I’m not sure McGregor would be beaten in a few seconds against Mayweather because he’s very strong, very good and he works a lot, but I don’t see him winning. I’m bad at predictions but if I lose this one I’ll just shut up forever.
I think McGregor would have a chance if he went in there and tried to make it dirty and didn’t actually box him – he just went in and fought him. If McGregor acts like it’s an MMA fight, but just throw his hands, that would put Floyd off a bit. The movement could trouble him. The reason Floyd is so good is because he is used to outboxing boxers. There’s a certain stance and a certain style. He’s comfortable with that. I think it would take Floyd a bit of time to get the gist of it. I remember when I used to go to a Thai-boxing club and a lot of people there were better than me at Thai-boxing but because I was boxing them and moving around like a boxer – I wasn’t standing like the Thai-boxers – I was able to hit a lot of them and they weren’t able to hit me. It will be interesting.
Former UFC middleweight champion
I probably initially didn’t give Conor the respect he deserved but he’s a great athlete. I just have real trouble wrapping my brain around how somebody that does boxing as an aspect of their martial arts training would be able to stay on par with somebody who trains full-time. I’ve worked with top-10-level boxers. When you’re playing by their rules it’s a long day in the ring. [Will you watch it?] I’ll watch the replay (laughs).
UFC featherweight contender
I definitely think it’s an exciting fight. I think it will be good for combat sports in general. People say it’s not good for boxing and not good for MMA, but this is why MMA started in the first place. You’d see these style match-ups. I think it’s a huge draw. People want to see it.
I think Mayweather should be able to be the smarter fighter and go out there and just win a blind decision like he normally does. But it’s the what-if? thing people are excited about. And I do think MMA fighters fight differently. I box a lot and the only reason I hang is because I box differently. I’m awkward, I throw overhand, I come from weird angles. Sometimes they think it’s sloppy but it lands. Whatever’s landing, works. That’s how we made this sport of MMA. Whatever works, works. So I think that surprise factor Conor could have on him. Having a powerful punch could make it super-exciting. He could shock the world. I think it’s worth watching.
Head coach at Dinky Ninja Fight Team/Higher Level Martial Arts
Everybody’s going to watch, but there’s no way Conor beats Floyd Mayweather. Our pro MMA fighters spar with pro boxers and it’s just a different game completely. I hope he gets paid well, but I think the best he can hope for is that he doesn’t get embarrassed.
I wish it was under kickboxing rules to give him a chance. People who think Conor’s going to win are delusional. I don’t even think Conor thinks he’s going to win. But if you’re going to get $75 million, any pro MMA fighter in the world would take that against Floyd Mayweather. It’s not like they’re taking on a prime Mike Tyson who’s going to hurt you. Mayweather’s going to embarrass him and touch him up and win by decision. I don’t think it’s going to be fun to watch but it’s certain that people are going to watch.
UFC Hall of Famer
Floyd Mayweather is the greatest of all-time when it comes to boxing but he’s also a bit older and has never fought a guy like Conor. There will be different types of movement. As we’ve seen, Conor has heavy, heavy hands and we’re all human. I think there’s too much to gain and I’d love to see Conor go in there and upset the world and get that big W. He’s the bigger man and the younger guy. I’ll be tuning in, for sure.
UFC light-heavyweight contender
I think he’s (McGregor) got a chance. If he hits him… I say this to a lot of people: it’s a fight. The way I see it, I don’t see it as a sport or competing. I see it as a real fight where you’re trying to hurt each other. If Conor hurts him, I think he could win. I don’t really bet… I wouldn’t mind losing a score, but I wouldn’t put a grand on it (laughs).
UFC analyst and former title challenger
How crazy is this? Three or four months ago nobody thought this was going to happen. One of the best in history, 49-0 in boxing, against 0-0. Money talks, but it’s kind of unreal. It’s really, really bad. It doesn’t make sense. I would like to think Conor has a chance, but Mayweather has fought his entire life against the best boxers in the world, who were boxing since they were nine or 10 years old and nobody was able to touch him. How will Conor McGregor be able to touch him if those guys weren’t able to do it. That’s my sports logic. I don’t think you can mix MMA and boxing at that level. Even if he gets a punch and rocks him, that will be insane.
Former UFC light-heavyweight champion
That singular skill, man. They’re too well-rounded in it. Floyd Mayweather is the best boxer I’ve ever seen. But, even if Conor loses, and he gets embarrassed, he will still make so much money doing it.
Tristar head coach
I don’t think we should go in their sport; I think they should come to our sport because MMA is the ultimate sport. Conor McGregor would destroy Mayweather in an MMA fight. It wouldn’t be a long fight. However, an MMA fighter going into boxing, it’s the wheelhouse of Mayweather. I expect Mayweather to win. The ultimate combat sport is MMA, so I really think we should bring boxers to try and compete in our arena as opposed to their arena. Of course, Mayweather would never dare. He’s not that dumb. He’s smart enough not to get himself killed. It just goes to show the best fighters in the world are in cages, not rings. I think McGregor should do it for the money because it’s going to be such a mega payday. Other than that, there’s no real reason. His odds of winning are probably slim after the first few rounds, so I pick Mayweather to win.
Former UFC champion
I think it’s going to be a fixed fight to be honest with you. In the boxing ring, Floyd Mayweather’s going to have the upper hand. He’s one of the best point-fighters there is. He’s not a knockout artist or anything like that. If you get close to him, he hugs you. On the break, he’s got his distance and he point-spars you. That’s how he wins s**t. I don’t see him jeopardizing his so-called legacy against Conor McGregor. I think he’s like, ‘Hey Conor, how would you like $75 million to let me win a fight?’ To be honest, I don’t think I’d say no to that, either. I don’t think Conor has a chance to win unless it’s MMA.
Former Bellator champion
Conor doesn’t stand a chance. He’s one of the best fighters in the world but boxing is a whole different animal. It’s a whole different speed, a whole different reaction time, a whole different style of fighting. Being a mixed martial artist going into boxing and trying to box a guy who’s been boxing since he was three years old and has as much experience as Floyd has… Floyd is as close to unbeatable as you’re ever going to see in boxing, so you’ll be hard-pressed to say that an MMA fighter can come in and do it. If Canelo couldn’t do it, I don’t think McGregor is going to be able to do it.
I have [done a lot of sparring with pro boxers] and it’s just different. The ease with which they dodge punches and counter punches, the speed and the reaction time they have is just different. Every single second I spend training my ground game, my kickboxing and my wrestling, which is at least half to three quarters of the time, and that’s time a boxer would have been training punches, combinations, reaction time, defense, head movement and footwork. If you have guys that started from scratch in boxing from the age of 10 to 20 years old, the amount of time they put into punches in combinations compared to a guy who trains about 25 different disciplines in mixed martial arts – the boxer is just going to have better everything when you talk about pure boxing. That’s just simple science when you talk about the law of 10,000 hours.
TUF 2 winner and former UFC title challenger
My favourite boxer was and is Ricky Hatton. I didn’t buy the Floyd Mayweather fight to watch Floyd Mayweather beat Ricky Hatton. I watched it because I wanted to see what would happen if Hatton connected. Floyd is such a protected fighter. He tries to compare himself to the greatest and it’s crazy. Floyd compared to Muhammad Ali? No way. Rocky Marciano? No way. These guys fought the best in their primes. There was no waiting until someone was out of their prime to fight them.
If I was Conor I’d take Floyd down in the very first round and then, when everybody is up in arms and saying I should lose a point, I’d punch Floyd in the face as hard as I can. Then it’s all worth it. I’m not watching this fight to watch Floyd win, I’m watching it because there’s a chance he could lose. I happen to like Conor. I don’t care how Floyd loses. It would be hilarious for him to lose to an MMA fighter when he tries to put himself up there as one of the greatest boxers of all-time. He’s not going to run from Conor. He’ll probably stand and bang. If he gets hit and starts running, everyone will boo.
Former UFC welterweight and McGregor training partner
It’s the only fight I’m interested in seeing Mayweather in. I think Conor brings something new to the table, something fresh, something different. I think there are problems there for Mayweather and a lot of what-if? questions. That’s what interests me. People want to see it. Conor has talked on and on about it. He’s told me he’s going to beat him. I don’t doubt that man, no matter what he says. If he says he’s going to become the next President of the United States, I’ll believe him. Whatever he says, he does. There’s no reason for me to doubt him.
UFC 115lb contender
It’s hard to make a decision because you don’t know how experience and youth will decide things. Floyd has all that experience in boxing. Although Conor has a lot of experience in fighting and martial arts, it’s completely different when you give all your time to one sport. In MMA, you’re not giving all your time to boxing. You’re giving it to other things as well. Mayweather has been concentrating on just boxing since he was a child. It’s a completely different world.
Former Bellator light-heavyweight champion
I think it’s a fun fight but I think it will also be very exciting. I think Conor McGregor will put on a great fight but I don’t think he can win it. I’ll definitely be tuning in. Floyd’s cut man is my wife’s uncle.
Irish MMA fighter
He’s fighting the best in the world. But everyone said he couldn’t beat Jose Aldo. He knocked him out in 13 seconds. They said he can’t beat a wrestler. He beat Chad Mendes. Then it was, ‘You’ll never move up to lightweight and win that belt.’ Then he knocked out Eddie Alvarez with his hands behind his back. Conor needs to pop that straight left right on Mayweather’s chin. He just needs to hit him with one clean shot. When Conor hits you, you go to sleep.
Bellator heavyweight contender
It’s not a fight because it’s boxing. In MMA, Conor would kick his head off and ruin his legs and everything else. But the best boxers in the world spend their lives perfecting angles. Boxers know angles better than contracts. They know how to punch with true power because they don’t have to worry about kicks or takedowns. All their punches dig out of the floor. We’re off the hip. That’s a massive punching difference. We have to worry about wrestling and kicking and grappling and wall work and everything else. They punch. That’s what they do. I’m a damn good fighter but I’m not a good boxer.
It’s going to be an ass-whupping. I think Conor gasses after three four, maybe five rounds. Then Floyd actually gets a finish, which he never normally does. Or Floyd dances around him and clowns him for 12 rounds. If Floyd opens up, which he never does, Conor has a chance. He can counter punch really well and he’s long. Eddie Alvarez said it wasn’t the power of Conor’s punch, it was how fast it went from his hip to his face. It caught him before he could brace his neck. Conor’s quick. I’m not taking that away from Conor. But boxers are quick. I just don’t see it really happening. I don’t think Conor really has a chance. It’s less than one percent probably. I respect him for having the stones to do it. Floyd sure as hell wouldn’t come into an MMA fight.
Former UFC welterweight fan favourite
The problem for Conor is that you get elite boxers who cannot hit Floyd. If Conor hits the guy five times in the fight I will be impressed. Conor is a good boxer, not an elite boxer. He’s an elite MMA guy. Elite boxers don’t touch this guy. How is a guy who isn’t a true boxer going to hit him? It’s not going to happen.
It’s a different game. The distance is way different. That’s all they do. If all you do is throw jabs, the best jab is going to win. It doesn’t matter how good your right hand or left hook is. So you’re basically taking away a lot of McGregor’s weapons – kicks, elbows, takedowns. All you’re throwing are hands and you’re limited to two weapons instead of ten. All Floyd has been doing since he came out the womb is boxing. Unless he slows, which he’s not going to do in this amount of time, I just don’t see him getting hit. There’s nothing more I’d love to see than Conor knocking him out. I like Conor. I think he’s a great fighter. I would give him a very low percentage chance of winning this fight.
When I first saw it was a fight were you had to bet 1100 dollars to win 100, I said that’s a steal. That’s great. I would put it at least 25/1. That’s no disrespect to Conor. He’s doing the smartest, best thing of any fighter in MMA. He’s making maybe 100 million dollars on this. He never has to fight again in his life if he doesn’t want to. He can hype the shit out of this fight and it will do great stuff. He’s going to go out there, he’s always got that punchers chance, but punchers who were great boxers never had a chance against this guy. I just don’t see what Conor brings any different to anyone else. Floyd has seen everything this guy is going to have to offer.
MMA striking coach
I don’t think you can box with a boxer if it’s straight boxing. But Conor is somebody a little special and a fight is a fight. Two people will punch each other. Normally the best boxer in the world, one of the best ever, against a guy who a couple of years ago was just a stranger is kind of weird to me. I’m going to see it, though. I’m going to watch it.
There’s always a chance when two guys enter the ring but normally Mayweather is really really good. I’m a Conor fan, I like him a lot. He does a lot of weird stuff nobody thought he would do. But, logically, no, he can’t win.
In Pride time we had a lot of stuff like this. When I was training Peter Aerts he fought a sumo guy and also Remy Bojanski fought a sumo guy and knocked him out very bad. But this is straight up boxing rules. I think this is going to be different. Is it a real fight or is this two people who are going to make some money together?
Glory Kickboxing heavyweight and MMA fighter
Mayweather is used to fighting boxing opposition. But the first time he fought Marcos Maidana, Maidana fought him like a pressure MMA fighter. In the process of doing that he was tagging Mayweather, until Maidana got tired. We all know in the second fight he destroyed him.
If McGregor tries to play that MMA game in a boxing realm he might have a little success, but if he tries to straight box Mayweather, he’s going to lose ten times out of ten. My prediction is Mayweather will go 12 rounds with Conor; I just don’t think he’ll knock him out.
Bellator welterweight contender
Most definitely it’s a mismatch. It’s been done well because McGregor fans are sold on the whole concept but you’re talking about one of the best boxers of our time, who has defeated some of the best boxers of our time: Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao.
Those four names there McGregor wouldn’t even last three rounds with, let alone the guy who has defeated them all. Boxing is completely different to MMA. McGregor should get in there with a top-three British fighter in his weight and see how he fares. I think if he jumps in with the best boxer of our era, it’s a huge mismatch.
I’ve sparred with the British army boxing team early on in this camp – not even the Olympic team – and they are at such an elite level that it was extremely difficult for me. Admittedly, I lost every round. I wasn’t humiliated in any way, but they are boxers and this is what they do, day in, day out.
That’s just the British army team, let alone your Olympic team, let alone a British or European or world champion. And then Mayweather. I’ve been sparring boxers from the beginning of my career – guys like Ovill McKenzie, Rendall Munroe and recently Frank Buglioni. I’ve sparred all these guys and I know my place and my place isn’t in a boxing ring with these guys.