Thursday Tap Out: Conor McGregor's camp stands by its man

1:01 | MMA
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Thursday June 22nd, 2017

Thursday Tap Out is back after a two-week hiatus. It’s been an entertaining time for MMA fans so instead of recapping the past two weeks, let’s examine recent developments.

Conor McGregor’s coach predicts a knockout against Floyd Mayweather

The biggest news in MMA, and maybe sports in general, was the announcement of a boxing match between undefeated Floyd Mayweather and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. They'll meet Aug. 26 in Las Vegas.

Most people are giving the edge to Mayweather, one of the greatest in the history of his sport taking on a relative newcomer. ESPN’s Max Kellerman went as far as predicting McGregor wouldn’t land a single punch.

McGregor’s camp is brimming with confidence in their fighter, as expected.

“I have no doubt in my mind he’s gonna do it,” Owen Roddy told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I think it's gonna be one of the most insane nights ever.”

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​Roddy not only sees McGregor landing a punch, but envisions a typical McGregor finish, a knockout.

“I think he’s gonna put him away,” Roddy said. “I think he’s gonna KO him. I think it’ll take a couple of rounds. And I know my phone is about to explode, I’m sure. But look, Conor does these things. He does these exceptional things all the time. If he says he’s gonna go in and knock him out, I think he’s gonna go in and knock him out.”

The puncher’s chance narrative is abundant when discussing McGregor’s potential in this fight, but against the best defensive fighter in history it seems like a stretch. If McGregor were to knockout Mayweather, it certainly would be more entertaining for the absolute anarchy that would follow in combat sports.

Triple H invites Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather to WWE RAW

Boxing purists’ heads are already spinning about Mayweather facing an MMA fighter in a boxing bout. The bout being promoted on a WWE show might push them over the edge.

But it’s perfect.

A tour to promote the fight is already in the works, similar to the world tour the UFC scheduled to promote Jose Aldo and McGregor’s title fight at UFC 189, which was called off due to injury. Triple H invited the two fighters to join WWE Raw.

The WWE circus thrives on trash talk and drama, so this fight and the war of words is a fit. It’s also a gift of a promotional opportunity for Mayweather and McGregor, and an opportunity for a ratings boost for the struggling weekly show. This is an audience of fans who could buy this pay-per-view, and especially since their monthly PPV buying has dropped to $10 a month, there’s untapped purchasing power.

Other McGregor-Mayweather nuggets

Because there are millions.

• McGregor is working with “movement coach” Ido Portal again, working on his reaction speed.

• The Showtime broadcast team will call the fight.

• The tickets are ridiculously expensive.

•​ McGregor has a mural of him knocking out Floyd Mayweather painted in his gym. Before UFC 202, McGregor had pictures of him punching Nate Diaz displayed in the gym as well. Visualization has been a part of McGregor’s career, and this certainly helps.

•​ McGregor can negotiate an apparel deal for the fight, a luxury UFC fighters no longer have. It also presents an opportunity for McGregor to make even more money in this fight.

• Joe Rogan says McGregor would be a “folk hero” if he headkicked Mayweather. Sure, MMA fans and Mayweather detractors would enjoy it, but it’d undo progress of MMA as a sport in gaining mainstream acceptance, and Rogan acknowledged this. Not to mention it would close doors for McGregor, and MMA fighters in general, in future boxing bouts. McGregor is a businessman.

• Legendary MMA coach Mike Winkeljohn thinks McGregor has a chance early in the fight.

•​ Tony Ferguson wants McGregor to vacate the belt, but Dana White said McGregor wants to fight in the UFC before the end of the year.

Five Questions with Jose Youngs of FanSided MMA

1. Holly Holm scored a big KO win over Bethe Correia, is the Holm that dethroned Ronda Rousey back?

How about the performance from the ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ huh? One second the fans in Singapore are booing her mercilessly and the next they’re erupting in approval following her third round decapitation of Bethe Correia

So on paper the answer is obviously yes, especially since the last time Holly actually had her hand raised was when the entire sporting world saw her shin wrapped around Ronda Rousey’s head on the fateful November night in Australia. Since then she suffered a submission loss to the recently retired Miesha Tate while dropping decisions to current number one bantamweight contender Valentina Shevchenko and former featherweight champion (sigh) Germaine de Randamie.

So heading into her fight against Correia, the Albuquerque native was dangerously close to become the MMA equivalent of Buster Douglas. But MMA is a game of matchups and that is exactly where Holly’s string of misfortune came from. Against Ronda, Holly used her opponent’s bullrush of an attack against her and picked her apart with counterstrikes before turning the lights out in the second. However, against Tate, Shevchenko  and De Randamie, the former champion fought three women who didn’t make the same mistakes Ronda made. They game planned, they bided their time and used the hole’s in Holly’s game against her. Needless to say, Correia, the woman who sprinted after Ronda in their fight, did not do this. She taunted, she put her hands down, motioned for Holly to attack. It was a matchup tailor made for Holly.

So is the Holly Holm that finished Ronda Rousey back? I would have to say no because she never left. Her opponent’s just caught on and Correia didn’t read the manual.

2. Surprised that more bets are being placed on Conor McGregor than Floyd Mayweather?

Absolutely not. Do I think Conor McGregor will win against arguably the greatest boxer of our lifetime? No. But am I willing to bet $100 bet on McGregor in hopes of earning $375 for a McGregor win? Probably. That’s how betting works. Risk big, win high.

Also the last time I checked, McGregor winning by decision is 40/1. To put that intro perspective, Buster Douglas was a 42/1 underdog against Mike Tyson and you saw how that turned out.

3. Chael Sonnen says the fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather lasting more than 30 seconds, or a round is a black eye for the sport of boxing. Is he right?

I could not disagree more with Mr. Sonnen. First off, the fact a fight between a former champion with a professional record of 49-0 and a MMA fighter with a boxing record of 0-0 was actually sanctioned by a governing body is already a black eye for the sport.

But if you’re asking me if a two-division champion in MMA, who has also fought at weight class nearly 20-pounds bigger than Mayweather, surviving 12-rounds against a boxer wing ONE KNOCKOUT IN 10 YEARS is bad, then the answer is no. Everyone knows Mayweather’s gameplan: take as few risks as possible while flustering his opponent with constant movement. McGregor showed he has formidable chin when he last five grueling rounds against Nate Diaz, a man far bigger than Mayweather, when they were allowed to punch, kick, takedown, etc.

Combine this with the fact Mayweather has infamously brittle wrists, and the thought of Mayweather actually finishing his younger opponent seems just as plausible as McGregor actually winning a decision.

But McGregor actually does outwork boxing’s ultimate defenseman and squeak out a decision, then give him every belt in the every sport.

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4. Did the UFC make the right call to strip Germaine de Randamie of the belt and book Cris Cyborg vs. Megan Anderson?

Right call? That’s a tough one. While I do agree with UFC officials that champion’s should defend their title against the rightful number one contender or else be stripped of their belt, I do not agree with the way they went about informing her, or lack thereof.  De Randamie, the inaugural featherweight queen, found out she was stripped of her title the same way everyone else did: social media. No phone call, no text, no conversation. How would you like to find out you lost your job on Twitter? Doesn’t sound fun does it?

But the UFC was in a tough position. The division was created specifically for Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino and De Randamie’s refusal to fight her basically put the entire division at risk. It should also be noted De Ramdamie has routinely expressed her desire to drops back down to bantamweight, leaving the UFC with no other choice but to strip of her belt. But next time you have to take someone’s belt from them, maybe pick up the phone.

5. Was it hypocritical of the UFC when you consider Michael Bisping’s title reign in the middleweight division?

That depends entirely on whether you believe Michael Bisping is actually hurt. If he’s actually hurt and on the shelf until the fall, then there’s nothing for UFC or fans to say. If he’s 100% healthy and is just holding out for the fight against Georges St-Pierre and the paycheck it comes with, then it is 100% hypocritical. With the middleweight division being deeper than it’s ever been and its champion refusing to defend his belt, this situation is everything wrong with the big money fights. Instead, fight fans get to watch Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker for the interim title this summer with no guarantee they’ll even get a shot against Bisping in the fall.

Bellator 180 at Madison Square Garden

This weekend Bellator makes its debut at Madison Square Garden with a rare pay-per-view event. For Bellator, the card is perhaps the most fans could hope for. There are three titles, and two main events with some marquee names.

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The issue is those names were marquee years ago. Still, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva in the main event at least gives MMA fans the opportunity to see a fight they’ve been waiting years for, albeit significantly later than they hoped.

Fedor Emelianenko’s return to the United States is also significant, and in the mecca of combat sports.

But by stacking the card, can the promotion keep new fans hooked on their product in the following six to eight weeks, or will the depleted roster turn fans away. Is the gamble to put the event on pay-per-view going to backfire?

Cody Garbrandt vs. Manny Pacquiao?

As boxing vs. MMA hysteria digs its roots deeper in combat sports, everyone is seemingly angling for a crossover megafight. Heavyweight champs Stipe Miocic and Anthony Joshua have been exchanging barbs and Adrien Broner has called out Nate Diaz.

And now bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt’s manager Ali Abdelaziz tossed out the idea of Garbrandt fighting boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Sure, all these potential fights are intriguing on the surface and will inspire no shortage of bar room discussions. But as Chael Sonnen once said, it’s as worthwhile as debating who wins in a fight between Batman or Superman.

Let’s see how Mayweather vs. McGregor plays out before exploring more crossover fights.

UFC strips Germaine de Randamie of women’s featherweight title

The fiasco in the newly formed—yet not fully established—women’s featherweight division has been sorted out. After reportedly refusing to fight the top featherweight in the world, Cris Cyborg, the UFC stripped champion Germaine de Randamie of the title.

“As many of you know by now, the UFC has stripped me of the call,” de Randamie wrote on social media. “For those of us who don’t quite know what that means; the UFC has took my title because I refuse to fight against their number 1 contender. (I have my reasons) it remains particularly for this news from the media to learn and I regret that it happened this way, but it is what it is!”

Brandon Wade, AP

The UFC released a statement explaining the decision.

“UFC maintains that any champion is expected to accept fights against the top contenders in their respective weight classes in order to maintain the integrity of the sport.”

Enter Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson, who will fight Cyborg for the belt at UFC 214.

Some fans have pointed out the hypocrisy given the treatment of Michael Bisping in the men’s middleweight division, but Bisping countered on his Believe You Me Podcast.

“I’ve got to be careful about what I say here because I know everybody’s gonna talk s--t about me and say, ‘You’re a f***ing ****. You f***ing defended against Dan Henderson. You’re avoiding number one contenders.’ That is not what’s happened, mother******s. The UFC offered me Dan Henderson, I took the fight and then I had knee surgery. Two knee surgeries in fact.

“The thing about Germaine that always irked me from the very start is even when she beat Holly Holm and won the belt, she immediately said in the ring - because Rogan tried to set up a fight with her and Cyborg - she said, ‘No, no I can’t do it. I have to have hand surgery.’ Immediately after winning the fight she was in the ring, talking to Rogan, ducking the number one contender saying she needs hand surgery. Then, in the post-fight press conference, she’s saying, ‘I think I should rematch with Holly because it was really close.’ So which is it, do you need hand surgery or not?”

Draw your own conclusions there.

MMA quick hits

• Holly Holm ended a three-fight losing streak with a vicious headkick KO of Bethe Correia, who moments before taunted Holm and encouraged her to engage.

• George Sullivan has been banned a year for a doping violation

• John Makdessi fights Sage Northcutt at UFC 214, that’s a good fight to watch

• MMA legend and former UFC champion Matt Hughes was involved in an accident with a train. Our thoughts and prayers are with Hughes and his family during the fight of their lives.

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