When undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather (49-0-0) agreed to fight mixed martial artist (MMA) Conor McGregor (who’s boxing record is 0-0-0), he must have thought he would be the easy winner, both inside and outside the ring.
What has follow since the fight was announced, has been an overblown week-long, worldwide press tour the likes of which has never been seen (which did little favours to either fighters), a betting frenzy which is estimated to surpass even the Super Bowl and much more.
So with this level of interest and money on offer, who is the real winner before both men even step into the ring?
Undoubtedly it is McGregor.
Mayweather may make more from the fight in terms of money (of $90 million) but this payday and also the unprecedented level of interest brings the Irishman into the sporting stratosphere and puts him right where Mayweather has been for years in terms of earnings. The American’s earning power over his career is truly stunning as has attracted over 19 million pay per view (PPV) buys from fans while generating an estimated $1.3bn in revenue.
Considering that McGregor was collecting welfare from the Irish state (of $235 a week) before his first UFC fight in 2013, his rise to taking part in quite possibly the most lucrative combat fight in history is nothing short of stunning.
With this fight, McGregor now has a seat at the table of sports biggest earners and there are a number of reasons for this:
- Sponsors: Currently, as a UFC fighter, McGregor is subject to the organisation’s restrictive deal with Reebok whereby all fighters must wear the brand’s apparel. This deal dents fighters’ abilities to build their own sponsorship deals, however, with this fighter, it has been confirmed that McGregor is free to strike up his own sponsorship deal and is not tied to Reebok.
- Sponsors #2: Again, outside of McGregor’s own personal deals, brands wanting to get in on the fight are reportedly having to spend a minimum of $10 million for the privileged of doing so. Both Mayweather and McGregor will obviously benefit from this and once again too, this total is a new record for boxing and combat sports.
- Fight purse: It is estimated that McGregor will make $75 million from the fight alone, which is over five times more than any fight purse he’s had in the UFC.
- Post-fight career: The above is a follow on to this. Reports have McGregor defending his UFC title at the end of this year, regardless of how the Mayweather fight goes. Given the amount of money he will earn from this fight, he has a huge bargaining chip to play with the new owners of MMA’s biggest organisation, WME-IMG.
- Pay Per View (PPV) numbers: Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2015 generated the most PPV numbers ever, with 4.1 million buys made in the USA and a further 500,000 by fans outside of the US, which generated a $410 million in revenue. The numbers for his fight with the Irishman are expected to even exceed this. If this actually ends up happening, it sets McGregor up to be a bonefied box office player, regardless of staying in the UFC or going in a different direct, meaning the opportunities on offer to him in the future could be very lucrative.
Regardless of what happens in the ring on the 26th August, Conor McGregor has already won far more than Floyd Mayweather before he even steps foot in the T-Mobile Arena. This event will boost his earning’s potential beyond any fight he could have had in the UFC and puts him into the heavyweight earners in sports for a long time.