Conor McGregor had more boxing eyes on him than is typical on an evening when pro pugilism is available, making a successful return to UFC’s Octagon on Saturday night.
Fair to say the McGregor vs Cowboy Cerrone clash, taking place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, was more intriguing to Team Pacquiao and Team Mayweather, than were the boxing offerings running on ESPN (Eleider Alvarez-Michael Seals light heavy main event) and FOX (Julian Williams 154-pound title defense against Jeison Rosario).
Not because they appreciate the blending of martial arts MMA provides, or because they hold stock in McGregor’s whiskey venture. Nah, McGregor is a certified celebrity (with 34 million Instagram followers), someone people are curious about, follow the actions of, obsess over.
And in this age — call it for purposes of this task The Kardashian Era — celebrity status is more important than is skill, talent, fighting ability.
It’s more important to consider conjuring interest — read: making money — when we are thinking about fighting, boxing, MMA, about sports-entertainment as a whole.
More than 19,000 folks piled into the Las Vegas arena to see the Irishman do his thing; some love him, some hate him, some feel both emotions. But the majority of them are fascinated by Conor. When he speaks, they listen. He has a magnetic property to him, and whatever or whomever is on the other side of his magnetic charge will benefit by proximity.
You can say a McGregor vs boxer fight is a side show, offensive to the Marquis of Queensberry, and you won’t watch. But you will — and you ought to accept that this sort of event is the present and the future of boxing and MMA, at least until both sports churn out more athletes who also are considered “celebrities.”
Sean Gibbons advises Senator Manny Pacquiao. I reached out to Gibbons, a boxing lifer who has been a matchmaker, manager, fighter — he’s worn most all the hats that are available.
Manny is keen to fight McGregor in a boxing ring?
Damn right, Gibbons told me.
So where does it stand? Is it up to Conor, Dana White, Al Haymon? If Manny and Floyd Mayweather would both like to take part in this dynamic tussle, how is it decided who gets the slot?
“It’s up to UFC, they call Al Haymon, and we are ready to go,” Gibbons replied.
For the fans, what is the better fight: Conor vs Mayweather 2, or Conor vs the Senator?
“The Senator vs Conor is more interesting because there are a lot of unknown things that play into the fight,” Gibbons said. “Mayweather been there, done that. McGregor doesn’t beat either one but the Senator brings a fresh look!”
That reasoning makes sense to me.
Now, what that promotion would look like is unclear to me. Would McGregor put on his black hat, and play the heel on Manny, who is revered in his homeland for being a selfless servant?
I also put it to you all, the fight fans: would you all rather a McGregor vs Mayweather rematch, or a McGregor vs Pacman matchup?
Here is a sampling of fan response to this question:
There is no shortage of people who feel this way. But there are millions more who don’t see it this way:
Put this guy down for “McNeither”:
Please fire us your vote in the comments section.
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