There’s something about The Money Fight that gets me all nostalgic for the dewy bygone days of crossover sports nonsense.
Michael Jordan playing baseball. Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki. Tim Tebow playing baseball.
Wait, that’s not nostalgia. Let me think – OK, the Superstars. Those were the days. Innocent and fun.
And, yes, there’s something about the distasteful drumbeat in advance of Saturday’s meeting of Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor – and the separation of you from $99.95 of your hard-earned pay – that suggests a sporting spectacle in complete harmony with these American times.
Or should that be harmfulny? No, it’s not a word, but it is a thing.
Then again, maybe that’s adding layers to a simple entrepreneurial exercise that just aren’t necessary. Rick Little almost has me believing so.
“People overthink things,” said the Spokane MMA guru who has steered nine fighters into UFC events, “and this is one of them.
“I think I’m the only guy who thinks it makes sense. It’s two guys winning with their hands that nobody else can touch. It should happen. People wanted it. It’s got to happen.”
And he didn’t say that with a sigh, as in, “It had to happen.” So Chauncy Welliver did it for him.
“It’s really sad that it’s come to this,” said the globetrotting heavyweight-turned-boxing-gym owner, “but of course it’s come to this.”
So here we are. Armageddon – by popular demand. The tatted-and-trashy @TheNotoriousMMA stepping out of the octagon and between the ropes to challenge the even more notorious – oh, let’s just go with despicable, shall we? – Mayweather, undefeated through five weight classes as a boxer.
So, cutting to the chase: Little and Welliver have different takes on the outcome, too.
Spoiler alert, right?
“I don’t get the 4-1 odds,” Welliver said. “I think it’s as much as 1,000-1 – and I hate saying that because I’m not a Floyd Mayweather fan. But he’s still the greatest fighter ever in my mind. He’s beaten everybody put in front of him.”
Little doesn’t get the odds, either.
“Conor should be the favorite,” he insisted. “I don’t see how he loses this fight. I don’t see anything Floyd does better – not one thing. Not even defense.”
Little isn’t just blaspheming for blasphemy’s sake – he’s already put his money down. And lest you think either of these guys is merely company lining it to defend their chosen fight games, think again.
“I think Roy Jones Jr. would have been a great MMA fighter – a champion for 10 years straight,” Little said. “Throwing blows is throwing blows. And I see a guy in McGregor who’s every bit as accurate and brutal as Roy Jones – the best guy out there. Floyd shouldn’t even be in the sentence.”
“Conor beats Floyd in an MMA bout easier than Floyd beats Conor in the ring,” he offered. “It’s very much about the sport.”
And as the sport is boxing, and as its history goes back centuries and not just a decade or two, and as Mayweather is its best – if hardly its most fulfilling – practitioner, we have the majority notion that McGregor will be out of his depth without even a puncher’s chance.
“De La Hoya, Pacquiao – those guys had a puncher’s chance,” Welliver said. “If they didn’t land, how does the slow MMA guy?”
“Conor strikes people in the jaw,” Little said. “Now he doesn’t have to worry about getting taken down while he’s doing it. Plus, it’s the weird-angle fighters that are hardest. You can’t avoid a fight with a guy who just wants to fight.
“He’s not worried about getting hit by a little guy. I don’t think defense is going to matter when there’s no respect for the offense.”
Well, that certainly sounds like something short of a mismatch. If you’ve plopped down your hundy already, maybe you won’t be disappointed.
Funny, though. For two guys adamant in how this will shake down, Little and Welliver had no problem coming up with alternate scenarios.
“Here’s what I’m thinking: Conor is going to get DQ’d,” Welliver said. “What do you do when you get frustrated? You resort to what you know. Conor’s going to grab him or slam him and gets DQ’d. And then everybody goes crazy – and with what’s going on these days, it won’t be good.”
And if McGregor does beat the odds?
“Then we’re screwed,” Little laughed, “because money rules everything and Floyd will have every excuse – he wasn’t ready, he didn’t take him seriously – and everyone will want to see it again. They’ll make even more money. And – you’ll think I’m crazy for saying this – but that’s the one Floyd can win. He’ll make adjustments and run like a madman and make it a purely point fight.”
Which means we get McGregor-Mayweather III. About the same time Tim Tebow makes the big leagues.
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