It seems that the hype over the Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight that took place two weeks ago at UFC 229 has yet to die down. Now, the Russian champion has taken a page out of McGregor's book and issued a challenge to the ever-bankable Floyd Mayweather Jr. Oh, boy.
Okay, let's break this down. Khabib's purpose for doing this should be pretty obvious. The Mayweather fight netted McGregor the biggest payday of his career (and likely the largest purse he'll ever get period). Now that his name has grown after UFC 229, Khabib is looking to cash in with a similar mega fight. The problem now, though, is that the appeal of an MMA fighter vs. Mayweather match has worn off with the public. The publicity that last year's mega event created is more than likely a once-in-a-lifetime deal. The novelty was there, but now it's gone, and probably for good.
Stylistically, the match-up is way worse than when McGregor stepped through the ropes. Sure, the Irishman was never going to win a boxing match against an all-time great, but at least he's known for his striking ability and knockout power in MMA. Khabib, meanwhile, is a powerhouse grappler who uses his striking as a means to an end, not as his primary weapon. Sure, he knocked McGregor down, but watch it again. McGregor reacted to Khabib's head nod, anticipating a level change into a takedown. That's why his hands were down and his hips were shifted back, leaving his chin perfectly exposed to an overhand right. Masterful stuff on Khabib's part as an MMA fighter, but the threat of a takedown won't save him when he has boxing gloves on.
But, you might be thinking to yourself, what if the fight happened inside the Octagon? Discarding the fact that Mayweather would never risk injury and his undefeated branding to fight out of his comfort zone, an MMA fight only ever ends one way: both fighters on the ground, with
What this call-out is, essentially, is an extension of the UFC's entertainment-first mentality. Nowadays, it's not the most deserving fighters who gets fame and money. Instead, it's the loudest and most brash who rake in the dough. Gone are the days when glory was just as important as the paycheck.
This isn't to say that fighters shouldn't get paid what they're worth. They put their lives and bodies on the line for our entertainment, and they rightly deserve to get compensated. But this is a sport, too, and if it hopes to remain respectable, then the match-ups have to make sense.
So please, enough of these ludicrous call-outs already. Let's get back to fights that matter. Khabib vs. Tony Ferguson, anyone?