By Bryanna Fissori
The question has been asked a million times. Will Conor McGregor accidently throw a kick or go for a takedown in his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather? No one can say that for sure. (Honestly, in preparing for my upcoming boxing match I almost kicked my sparring partner, who happened to be standing in ideal kicking range). It can happen. MMA fighters are trained to move in and out of three basic ranges; kicking, grappling and punching. But is it likely McGregor will execute on autopilot?
Mayweather, whose personal and professional life is littered with legal trouble, has already threatened to sue McGregor should he use any MMA moves or techniques outside the rules of boxing. He has also stated that should one of these moves occur, the fight will stop immediately.
Where this is more likely to get interesting is not necessarily in the areas of kicking or grappling, but in the clinch. MMA and muay thai fighters are trained to clinch in a way that throws the opponent severely off balance and preferably to the ground. This could end up a fine line and a potential out for Mayweather should he “be thrown”. Referee Robert Byrd’s discretion will certainly be in question no matter the call.
In most cases an illegal move, depending on the severity, could result in a warning, a point deduction or potential disqualification. Conor faces a lot more than the normal reprimand if he slips up.
“He would get sued beyond belief if he does anything but hit Floyd Mayweather with his hands to the head and body,” said UFC president Dana White during a recent press conference. “It would be very bad. That can’t happen. That can’t happen. There’s actually language in the contract that that can’t happen.”
Because the language of the contract supposedly has specific ramifications for any techniques other than those allowed in boxing, a lawsuit of that nature could hold water as a breach of contract. This may disappoint fans who will be eagerly awaiting McGregor to knee Mayweather against the ropes, but it is in his best interest to keep his feet on the ground. Though it will likely be very tempting given Mayweather’s propensity for putting his back to the ring, the financial penalties could be extensive. If McGregor has been training for strictly boxing, he probably hasn’t kicked anything in months, which would be a wise training strategy. It is not likely that any other combat sport athlete knows (though often disregards) the court system as well as Mayweather. Legal issues are an even more dangerous game to play with Mayweather than the one in the ring and given the amount he currently owes the IRS, he will make sure to come out ahead.
The increased penalty for rule violation is not the only contractual alteration that these two will face. The normal 10-ounce gloves will be replaced with 8-ounce gloves, meeting in the middle between sparring gloves and MMA gloves. Per Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) rules, junior middleweight (147lb) fighters are mandated to wear 10-ounce gloves. The requested exception to the rule was approved by the NSAC despite early contention that the rules were in place for the safety of the fighters and would not be changed. The idea supposedly originated with Mayweather who wanted McGregor to feel like he had a chance.