If Conor McGregor fights Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match, it’s a good bet he’ll never fight again after that.
And, no, to all of you cynics and wise guys, it won’t be because of the way the fight goes. Rather, if the fight ever happens, it would almost certainly price McGregor out of any future UFC fight.
McGregor is the UFC lightweight champion, a belt he won on Nov. 12 in New York when he knocked out Eddie Alvarez to, at that point, become the first man ever to hold two weight-class titles simultaneously in the UFC.
He shares the record of the largest UFC guarantee ($3 million) with former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. He made far more than that for the win over Alvarez when his pay-per-view cut and other revenue streams are included. It’s more likely he surpassed $10 million when all is said and done, though the UFC doesn’t release that information.
UFC president Dana White, who made McGregor and Mayweather $25 million offers for the fight recently, has interest in the bout because it would be, well, big business.
It’s a bout that could hit 3 million on pay-per-view, which would leave it as the second-highest selling match ever. Only the 2015 bout between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, which did 4.6 million, is higher.
The UFC’s pay-per-view model is dramatically different than boxing’s, and it relies on the quality of the undercard a lot more than boxing. That said, there are few bouts imaginable for McGregor in the UFC that would seem to be able to net 2 million or more buys.
Take a look at the potential contenders:
• The winner of the March 4 bout for the interim lightweight belt between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. That would seem to be a bout that tops out at around a million sales, and it would be dependent upon a loaded undercard.
• Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley would make for a big fight with McGregor because of the historic nature of the bout. McGregor would be bidding to become the first three-weight division champion in the sport’s history. If that occurred, it would do massive business, and a safe guess would be somewhere in the area of 1.5 million to 1.75 million.
• A rubber match with Nate Diaz would seem to mean another 1.5 million sales at the minimum, but it’s a long way from there to 2 million.
• A rematch with Jose Aldo, whom McGregor knocked out in 13 seconds to win the featherweight title at UFC 194 in 2015, would excite the hardcore fans. But it wouldn’t have the widespread appeal and would most likely come in around 1 million or so.
• A bout with Georges St-Pierre would be epic and could threaten 2 million. St-Pierre was one of the most popular stars in the sport’s history before his 2013 retirement, but the fight itself wouldn’t likely be that appealing. St-Pierre would likely use his wrestling to keep McGregor on the ground. But giving their drawing power, this would likely do 1.5 million sales, maybe a bit more.
Is there anyone else who is realistic to match him with who would do big business? Probably not.
So those are your choices for McGregor post-Mayweather.
Given that McGregor could make as much as $75 million from a Mayweather fight when all is said and done, what incentive would he have to come back on the normal UFC pay scale? Very little.
It would cost a lot to get him back into the cage, and it would come at a price that would probably be so steep as to be unrealistic for the UFC.
WME/IMG’s $4 billion purchase of the company means that, in many ways, the UFC is now owned by banks. The UFC’s new ownership is heavily in debt and needs to pay off the loans. That’s a significant reason why large portions of the UFC staff have been laid off.
So it makes little sense for the company to then pay a fighter so much money for one bout that it will guarantee a significant financial loss.
Plus, there is the very legitimate question as to whether McGregor would even be interested in fighting again should he meet Mayweather. There would be no other fight out there for him that would pay him remotely close to what he would make for facing Mayweather.
He’s already banked significant money from his last four bouts, with wins over Aldo, Diaz and Alvarez and a loss at UFC 196 to Diaz. Add to that whatever he would make – and it will be significant – and he won’t be lacking for money for the rest of his life.
It would be an incredible story for a guy who in 2013 was on public assistance to be so financially well off four or so years later that he could retire, but that’s what is setting up to occur.
It’s still hard to see the fight being made, but it’s got a lot better of a shot of happening now than it ever has.
And if it does happen, it’s likely to be the fight we’ll look back on as the one that pushed McGregor out of the UFC for good.