- The myth of McGregor being a massive underdog
The common narrative distributed through almost all media outlets states that McGregor has no chance and that the fight of the century is rather just a money grab for two attention (and money hungry) egotistical fighters. Max Kellerman, top boxing analyst and First Take personality, went as far to call this fight “a circus” and went on to say that McGregor will not land a single punch throughout the entire fight. Although Kellerman is an informed opinion, nobody compares to the boys in the desert at handicapping sporting events. When Las Vegas offers a line, it has been run by multiple experts, predictive models, and several stages of quality control. The money to be lost on this fight if the odds are even slightly off can be north of 8 figures. According to Bovada.lv, Conor Mcgregor currently sits as a +300 underdog. Factoring in for house edge, Vegas handicappers believe that McGregor has a 22.5 percent chance of winning this fight. For a comparison to Mcgregor’s 3 to 1, lets look at some of the bigger upsets throughout sports history:
– Buster Douglas: February 11, 1990 Tokyo Japan vs Mike Tyson (42-1)
– Leicester City- Odds to Win 2016 Premier League (2500-1)
– Donald Trump- Odds to Win 2016 General Election- Opening Line (150-1)
– Mine That Bird- Odds to Win 2009 Kentucky Derby (50-1)
– New York Jets- Spread of Super Bowl III vs. Colts +18
So, in reality, McGregor beating Mayweather would not be the upset of the century, decade or in most cases even the week. The odds of McGregor winning this fight are actually 40 percent higher than the odds Stephen Curry makes his first two three pointers in a given game (16.9%). The interesting trend among whales, large bettors who control the majority of the action, is that they are NOT betting Mayweather. There has been zero 7 figure bets on Mayweather reported as of yet. This tends to indicate that the whales, who generally have analytics teams that rival a Wall Street trading firm, believe that McGregor actually has better than 22.5 percent chance of winning.
2. The Tale of the Tape
|Weight||151 lbs.||154 lbs.|
|Record||(49-0 boxing, 26 KOs)||(21-3 MMA, 18 KOs)|
The table mostly speaks for itself as Conor is the longer, younger, bigger fighter. I would like to add that the only deceiving thing about the chart is that McGregor usually walks around at 170lbs and should be around that weight come fight night.
3. Stylistic Similarity
Interestingly enough, Floyd and Conor have similar styles for two fighters who were groomed in vastly different settings. Floyd’s reputation for being a counter puncher is well noted, but the more accurate characterization would be: best combat defensive mind ever. Estimations range from experts that have studied all of his fights claim that he has only been hit clean as few as 5 times or as many as 9 times. In any event, to describe how remarkable that is for a boxer with 49 professional bouts under his resume would automatically be a euphemism. Conversely, Conor’s reputation for being an advancing brawler cannot be further from reality. McGregor, much like Floyd, bases his whole game-plan on the counter punch. The contrast stylistically on how these two defensive geniuses accomplish this task is in their spacing- Conor wants to keep a wide distance, while Floyd wants to keep the distance at a minimum. Conor represents the best distance controller in all of MMA. Conor consistently keeps an awareness of distance in attempts to be in a situation where his arms can reach you and you can’t reach him. He then waits for fighters to advance and expose themselves to his extremely accurate straight left hand, which generally marks the end of the fight. Conversely, Floyd can stand right in front of you and has an innate ability to know what’s coming next and roll with the punches and counter like a magician. His reaction time is to the point where he does not even have to cover his head with his gloves, because he is just that quick.
4. Punching Power
Another common myth perpetuated throughout the lead up to this fight is McGregor’s punching power advantage. The reputation for knocking down and knocking out many top line fighters in the UFC is skewed because of the glove sizing and stylistic differences that allow him to land a flurry of clean punches. In the super fight, McGregor will be using 8 oz gloves opposed to his regular 4 oz gloves, which will significantly reduce the force felt by Mayweather. Also, McGregor will unlikely be able to land heavy multi-punch combinations considering Floyd’s defensive ability. I.E. The idea of Conor being able to land the movie-like one punch knockout on Saturday is more likely fiction than fact. Likewise, Floyd has more punching power than most people think considering he’s usually fighting with 10oz gloves. Sports Science measured the two fighters average punching power and had McGregor at 845 LBF(Average pounds of force) and Mayweather at 815 LBF.
The best fights to look at to judge Conor’s chances are his fights vs. Nate Diaz. According to many boxing experts, Diaz has top level boxing talent and was respected enough to help number 1 pound for pound boxer Andre Ward via sparring. Of Diaz, Ward said ” (he) more than holds his own with me in the ring.” In his two bouts with Diaz, Conor dominated the early rounds with quicker hands and by controlling spacing and tempo. Unfortunately, the dominance of the early rounds was quickly replaced by dropped hands, sluggish movement, and diminished force on his punches. In both cases, Diaz was able to turn the fight 180 degrees, submitting him in the first bout and nearly getting a decision in the second bout. This may mark a seminole concern for fans of McGregor. Floyd notoriously looks just as fresh in the 12th round as in the first. If Conor’s endurance has not improved massively, his hands may drop again and Floyd will not be slow to take advantage of the fight at that point and likely end it before the full 12 rounds are completed.
I see the early rounds going to McGregor as his kickboxing style spacing will be hard for Floyd to figure out early. A lot of people will be excited and juiced up about the potential upset in the making; however, as Floyd figures out how to close the spacing the fight will swing his direction. By this time, we will find out where McGregor’s conditioning is at. If McGregor still holds gas in the tank, we could be in for an all-timer. More likely, I think his hands drop and his head stops avoiding punches he was able to in the earlier rounds. This leads to a referee’s stoppage in the 10th round.