McGregor vs Mayweather is good for both sports and here’s why
The fight that will unite two sports and provide some much-needed coverage
So the day has finally arrived! The fight which just a few months ago was pure fantasy will tonight become a reality. Yes, that’s right Conor McGregor will finally get his wish and face off against arguably the greatest boxing of the modern era in Floyd Mayweather.
Dispute being billed as ‘the biggest fight in combat history’ the fight has seen many detractors, former and current fighters such as Oscar De La Hoya, Saul Alverez, GGG, Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton have been highly critical of the match up – They believe that it will be a one sided affair and it can only go one way and that’s a definitive win by Mayweather. Many believe that Conor doesn’t even deserve this shot, and that should Floyd win, it should not even count on his record, which would become 50-0 surpassing that of legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano.
But here is why this matchup is a good thing, here is why both the sport of MMA & Boxing NEEDS this matchup – For boxing it’s an absolute much-needed lifeline, like it or lump it boxing PPVs haven’t been doing great as of late Broner vs Garcia averaged just 881,000 viewers on Showtime in the US, Vasyl Lomachenko vs Miguel Marriaga was watched on ESPN by just over 700,000 people, Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev 2 had 130,000 PPV buys which is down from their first encounter – for a comparison Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao which was on PPV had a buy rate of over 4 million in the US alone, with the two previously mentioned fights being on the more accessible cable stations, one would think viewership would be higher but this is not the case.
The UFCs latest event UFC 214 which saw the highly anticipated rematch between former champion Jon Jones and the then reigning champion Daniel Cormier drew a reported US PPV buy rate of over 850,000, the prelims on Fox Sports is said to have attracted an average of 880,000 viewers and peaked at over 1 million. UFC 213 had 130,000 PPV buys, the event which was headlined by an interim middleweight title bout between Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker saw its headline title fight between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko pulled at the last hour.
So why is this fight good for both sports? Well for boxing it drums up some much-needed interest from more casual fans, who it seems as of late, have been more interested in the UFC, and in particular Conor McGregor, it is hoped that these casuals would stick around and purchase other big upcoming fights such as GGG vs Canelo just over a month later.
For the UFC its legitimisation, although the UFC is now a well-established brand in the US with a solid network & cable deal with FOX, this fight brings the name into more households, it makes the brand much more mainstream and this is now doubly true in the UK. The UFC has struggled in the UK market in the past, originally PPVs were shown on tape delay on Bravo, then the UFC struck a deal with Setanta Sports to air events live, this was short lived however as Setanta closed down due to bankruptcy just a few weeks before UFC 100 – This forced the UFC to put UFC 100 on free TV, earning no money from subscriptions.
UFC then found a new home with ESPN, but the coverage was bleak, events aired late at night and there was little advertisement. Things have seemed to get better however as ESPN was taken over by BT Sports and the UFC struck a deal, with this BT Sports increased UFC programming, having their own UFC magazine show and increased advertising – however things still aren’t perfect, some events, such as those live in the UK pre-watershed are on a tape delay or sometimes not shown at all.
This event has done something the UFC has wanted with the UK for a very long time and that’s PPV and mainstream legitimisation, this event has been picked up by Sky Sports – Sky Sports has a much larger audience share than BT Sports, it also has the advantage of being able to advertise the event across the entire Sky platform, with adverts being shown on Sky1, Sky News, Sports, Movies and more. Sky Sports News has brought viewers the full build up, and Sky has even requested the services of Dan Hardy to provide commentary on the night.
As previously stated the UFC has wanted to do PPV in the UK for a very long time, and the hope is now that if Sky see great numbers for tonight’s event they may be open to putting UFC events on PPV in the near future, especially if headlined by the PPV juggernaught that is Conor McGregor.
Do you agree that this is a much needed event for both sports? Sound off in the comments below.