Diffusing the Notion of Power: Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather
By: Kirk Jackson
The main argument Conor McGregor, UFC President Dana White, UFC’s legion of hardcore, biased followers, advocate is McGregor’s overall physical strength, youth, size and punching power.
Essentially claiming these physical tools automatically dwarf anything the older, smaller, Floyd Mayweather can muster.
Their barbaric approach and sentiments suggest either ignorance of the sport of boxing, or a clever ploy to draw other demographics of audience into the event that will hog headlines August 26.
“Conor’s got extraordinary power, he’s got extraordinary movement and he’s bigger,” saidformer UFC commentator Joe Rogan. “He’s a far bigger guy. I mean he’s a big framed guy and he’s strong and he’s young.”
“That’s what Conor McGregor is. He’s a freak athlete. There’s a guy named FirasZahabi, who’s one of the best trainers in MMA, Georges St-Pierre’s trainer — he calls it the touch of death.”
The last man to share an octagon with McGregor, Eddie Alvarez, stated similar thoughts regarding McGregor’s punching power.
“I don’t know if it was after I got hit that I kind of went into fight or flight mode,” Alvarez said of their encounter.
“To be honest with you, that first shot, I had no clue what it was. I had no clue, and my butt was on the ground, and I remember in my head going ‘what the fuck was that?’”
Comparatively, McGregor is the bigger than Mayweather regarding physical size.
The Irishman has a one-inch height advantage and a two-inch reach advantage. With longer arms working to McGregor’s favor, as he enjoys utilizing his advantage as he likes to strike opponents from the outside.
Another physical factor favoring McGregor is he is in his twenties and eleven years younger than the 40-year-old Mayweather.
This is where the physical advantages for McGregor end.
Even at the advanced age of 40, Mayweather looks faster than McGregor and if we compare professional fight history between the two, Mayweather has the edge in regards to stamina.
Aside from showing slight fatigue in his last bout against Andre Berto, it’s a rare sight to see Mayweather tired in a fight. McGregor however displayed exhaustion against Nate Diaz in both encounters, falling to submission in their first fight.
McGregor may possess explosive speed, power and athleticism by mixed martial arts standards, but the application of these traits is applied differently within the realm of boxing.
If the Irishman tires out after two, five-minute rounds in the Octagon, it’s fair to suggest he will tire out over the course of an accelerated pace of 12, three-minute rounds via boxing.
Which may have prompted McGregor to suggest he will stop Mayweather within four rounds of action.
According to UFC President Dana White regarding McGregor’s claims, “He [McGregor] gets off the flight from Ireland, looks like he was just fitted at Armani. Walks off the plane and he says, ‘I will knock this man [Mayweather] out within four rounds.’”
McGregor figures he won’t outpoint the boxer and win on the score cards and he knows his body more than anyone else; meaning he knows his gas tank is limited.
Regarding punching and power in boxing, there are two famous phrases or mantras that hold true.
“All it takes is one punch,” and the famous, “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth,” – via Mike Tyson.
These adages provecorrect over time and they actually point towards Mayweather’s favor.
McGregor is southpaw and as a mixed martial arts stylized-fighter, his style and rhythm will probably throw Mayweather off – he is not accustomed to facing mixed martial artists.
But that goes against McGregor too. He is not used to fighting boxers with superior hand-striking ability. Eddie Alvarez is not going to cut it.
No disrespect to Nate Diaz, but Mayweather is in a different solar system skill-wise comparatively speaking.
Mayweather will not stand squared up and lunge in with his arms down like Jose Aldo. The same openings McGregor is accustomed to seeing fighting his UFC contemporaries will not be there against Mayweather.
A quick comparison to what McGregor faces regarding Mayweather and Diaz.
Diaz doesn’t make his opponents miss punches. Diaz doesn’tevade strikes or necessarily force the opponent to move all that much. Diaz stands in front of his opposition and essentially lets opponents hit him.
Mayweather is the polar opposite;the pursuit of Mayweatherrequires great footwork, feinting him out of position, cutting the ring off instead of chasing a great jab helps along with a wonderful sense of timing.
Mayweather fights utilizing different angles and stances, each with a specific purpose and as the opponent is chasing, missing punches, while consistently eating counter punches, Mayweather also attacks the body; wearing opponents down, making the chase that much more problematic.
Regarding the adage of all it takes is one punch to end anyone’s night, yes that is true.
Sure, one punch can end the fight for Mayweather. Applying a certain amount of pressure across the temple or chin can even put to sleep the most iron-chinned competitors.
The most damaging punch however, is the punch you don’t see coming. Mayweather is a master of landing those types of punches; accurate, precise, deceptive and damaging.
Regarding pure punching power, ESPN’s Sport Science did a report/experiment testing and comparing McGregor and Mayweather’s punching power.
Bringing it back to McGregor and Diaz, the man from Stockton stunned McGregor with a solid left hand; prior to submitting the Irishman later in the round.
According to Sports Science, with the very least Mayweather hits as hard as Diaz but possesses greater speed and places greater emphasis on precision, that all spells trouble for McGregor.
To echo the sentiments of mixed martial arts fighters Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisbing, boxers generally speaking punch harder than mixed martial artists. That’s a given right?
Many boxers, train from ages 4, 5 and focus on punching. Placing and shifting the weight into punches, moving hips behind punches, snapping the wrist, generating the proper torque for unleashing fistic fire power.
Sonnen stated on his podcast, “Floyd is throwing punches at guys that are great at slipping and rolling with and dealing with punches.”
“Conor is throwing punches at guys who aren’t great at –they’re very good… but they have to focus some of their time on the grappling, on the submission, on the conditioning, on the strength, on the weight cutting… they’re not great at it in comparison to what Floyd is throwing punches at,” Sonnen said.
“Floyd throws harder and punches significantly harder than Conor does. And he’s also used to throwing it at harder targets.”
While there are more nuances to boxing than what was mentioned in regards to punching, imagine the various nuances mixed martial artists have to learn – those trying to absorb multiple disciplines of fighting.
It makes sense a boxer generally possesses greater punching power and why should that be different with Mayweather?
Concerning form and technique, Mayweather is a boxing savant, considered a prodigy at a young age. While his knockouts decreased over time, we must take into consideration he moved up four weight classes and fought bigger opponents.
Emphasizing a point Sonnen touched on, the opponents he faced are trained to take punches; many of these boxers know how to roll their chins to mitigate the impact of incoming punches. Something McGregor lacks experience with.
Another thing to consider, contrary to White, Rogan and McGregor’s narrative, Mayweather is accustomed to fighter bigger guys.
Regarding opponents of the past, Marcos Maidana weighed around 175 lbs. after weigh-ins for a welterweight bout (147 lb. limit) against Mayweather.
Oscar De La Hoya weighed in the upper 160 lbs. range, same with Miguel Cotto. Canelo Alvarez weighed in the lower 170 lbs. range and these aforementioned fighters punch harder than McGregor. These are three Hall of Famers and De La Hoya is also an Olympic Gold Medalist.
Body punching is another thing McGregor has to worry about. While observing sparring and training footage, can’t help but notice McGregor keeps his cup/protector high; above the navel area.
Mayweather is an underrated body puncher. He utilizes his patented jab to the solar plexus or jab to the pit of an opponent’s stomach, essentially sapping strength from oncoming opponents.
Facing a southpaw we’ll more likely see straight right hands towards McGregor’s body, as the distance between an orthodox fighter’s right hand and a southpaw fighter’s chin and body is closer in distance.
And for a guy with questionable endurance issues, deposits to the body only makes sense for Mayweather.
McGregor is not used to defending his body from attacks like that; a subtle nuance of the boxing that is yet again underestimated.
Whether Mayweather can deal with McGregor’s punching power remains to be seen. Wonder what big punchers such as Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, De La Hoya, Cotto,Maidana, Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao think?
There are more variables at hand that determine the fate of a fight, but power looks to be Mayweather’s advantage.