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Thursday Tap Out: The Final Countdown Between Mayweather-McGregor

Following a press conference tour filled with vitriol, and homophobic and racist slurs, Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. met inside the KA Theater on Wednesday for the final media event of the fight. Compared to the world tour and the arrival ceremony, it was a subdued event.

The hypothetical fight of bar room discussions inches toward reality as fight week in Las Vegas begins. A surreal arrival ceremony, a boxing tradition, was chaotic as fans and media intermingled to get a glimpse of each fighter. Entourages from both got a little too close for comfort and boxer Paulie Malignaggi confronted McGregor about their sparring session that has become the focal point of the Irishman’s camp.

But it’s actually happening.

Following a press conference tour filled with vitriol, and homophobic and racist slurs, the two men met inside the KA Theater on Wednesday for the final media event of the fight. Compared to the world tour and the arrival ceremony, it was a subdued event.

No fans were present for the press conference, stripping away a crowd to play to for both fighters. McGregor was quiet and restrained, but managed to slip in a few jabs. Notably calling Mayweather’s decision to petition for 8-ounce gloves a mistake.

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“He made a big error agreeing to the eight ounce gloves,” McGregor said. “I don’t see him lasting two rounds. I think I could end him in one round if I want. He messed up. I’m very happy with these gloves. I don’t care where your hands are, I’m going to break through whatever is in front of me.”

McGregor also immediately discredited Mayweather’s concerns about the Irishman’s weight.

“I’ve never missed weight in my life and it won’t be happening this time,” McGregor said. “I’ve had my nutritionist practically living with me throughout camp. We are ready and feel great at the weight right now. The weight has been taken seriously and Floyd can keep wishing that I’ll miss weight.”

Mayweather was even calmer, making zero effort to engage in any last minute trash talk to hype the fight. Instead, Mayweather used the platform as a send-off for his career of sorts, thanking integral figures in his career and even praising McGregor.

“Conor McGregor is a hell of a fighter. He’s a tough competitor,” Mayweather said. “It’s going to be blood sweat and tears Saturday night. That’s what we want to give people all around the world. Now it comes down to the two of us going out there and displaying our skills. 

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“The best fighting the best. He’s the best at what he does, I’m the best at what I do. We can both do a lot of talking, but it comes down to the skills. We’re going to compete and give you what you want to see.”

The final stare down was even more jovial. People in Mayweather’s entourage in the crowd routinely blurted things out, Mayweather scolding the person involved at every turn, including during the stare down.

After a contentious world tour, the two seemed almost friendly. Mayweather put his hand on McGregor’s arm to turn him towards the cameras and McGregor had no issue with it, previously he would object. McGregor even struck a “Bruce Lee” pose in a jovial manner.

But it all comes to a head Saturday night, and the ramifications on both sports could be huge.

Anything less than a convincing Floyd Mayweather win could be viewed as a loss for boxing, a result that discredits the sport.

A win could make a return to the UFC less desirable for Conor McGregor.

Other sound bites from the press conference

“Everyone knows I can fight. I can give it and I can take. But to get to 49-0, it’s obvious that I’m not receiving it, I’m giving it a lot more often.” - Mayweather 

“After 21 years I’ve been hit with everything and I’m still right here. One thing you must know about combat sports, if you give it, you must be able to take it. Last time I checked, no one is walking me down. It’s all about my IQ and patience in the ring.” - Mayweather 

“You should have kept your mouth shut and left me over where I was. This man is not on my level. He’s not a quarter of the man I am. Everyone is going to eat their words on Saturday.

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“He’s a beaten man. He will not be able to take the ferociousness that I come with. I’m very confident. I have more skills in many areas and as a true martial artist, I can adapt to any situation.” - McGregor

Money belt

The WBC made a special commemorative belt for Mayweather-McGregor fight, and it’s as gaudy as McGregor’s fur lined Gucci shoes. It’s made of 3,360 diamonds, 600 sapphires, 300 emeralds and the strap is alligator skin.

It is probably worth tends of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars, and yet is absolutely meaningless.

Paulie Malignaggi confronts Conor McGregor

Jon Jones tests positive again

 “Daniel [Cormier] says the only reason I defeated him the first time is because I must have been on steroids, wonder what his excuse will be this time,” Jon Jones tweeted a week before UFC 214.

An eerily foreshadowing tweet that has come back to bite Jones in the wake of another potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected following his weigh-in on July 28, 2017. 

Less than a month after Jones’ redemption storyline reached its cinematic peak, it’s all come crashing down because of his own demons.

So what happens to Jones? Right now he is provisionally suspended pending a case and due process, but it seems unlikely that Jones will escape suspension given his track record.

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A second offense brings a suspension of two to four years, which would guarantee Jones being stripped of the title – the third time the UFC will have stripped Jones, counting the interim belt he won at UFC 197.

Cormier, who just lost the belt to Jones, could have that result overturned as a no contest and he could either be handed the title back, or he’d be in a title fight to win the belt once again.

“If this ends up and he ends up getting two- or three-[year suspension] - that might be the end of his career,” UFC president Dana White told media on Tuesday. “Talk about his legacy, that’s probably the end of his career. He might [come back] but it’s tough. How old is Jon now, 30? 33-34, trying to make a comeback again, and you look at what could have been, what he could have done, it’s sad.

“I don’t even know what to say. I always know what to say. I don’t know what to say about this one.”

It’s surreal to think Jones is in this position again. It’s a cycle with Jones he hasn’t been able to break, and the redemption angle that endeared him to fans in the build up to UFC 214 doesn’t ring as true anymore.

Roundtable: Media Members Share Thoughts on Mayweather-McGregor Fight

Five Questions With Jose Youngs of FanSided

1. Floyd Mayweather’s participated in a lot of extracurricular activities in the build-up to the fight. Is he not taking the fight seriously?

The undefeated boxing legend is in no way shape or form overlooking McGregor. His actions during fight week are 100% a marketing ploy for Mayweather and his camp to make it seem like McGregor actually has a shot at beating him.

From what I’ve gathered there are still tickets left for this sloberknocker of a fight, which has to be a blow to Mayweather’s ego. After all, this event was supposed to sell out the first day tickets became available. Maybe fans are seeing through this farce of a fight. Maybe they just think it’s not worth shelling out $100 to watch Mayweather have his way with an MMA fighter for 12-rounds. This is literally a debuting fighter stepping into the ring against the greatest boxer of his generation. So it’s easy to see why people wouldn’t take this seriously

So how does Floyd drum up interest? He pushes the narrative that he has a legitimate shot of losing by eating Burger King the week of the fight, going to the driving range or roller rink or – better yet – claim he’s spending all of fight week at the strip club.

Will it work? Ask me fight night when I’m at the arena counting the empty seats, or lack thereof.

2. The WBC unveiled a money belt to commemorate this fight? What is the point of this belt?

As I mentioned before, it’s all one big marketing ploy to sell tickets. Who wants to watch two fighters fight over nothing? I know I would.  But to the casual fans who have reservations over whether the fight is worth the $100 it’ll cost to watch the pay-per-view, putting a title with – and I’m not kidding - 3,360 diamonds, 600 sapphires, 400 emeralds and an alligator skin belt on the line could very well sway them in believing this fight actually means something.

Oh and did I mention belt is literally called “The Money Belt.” As if this spectacle couldn’t get more outrageous.

3. Should Jon Jones be stripped of the UFC title?

Jon Jones failed a pre-fight drug test for anabolic steroids. That much is certain. With his tract record far from unsullied, it is easy to see why he’s already found guilty in the mind of the general public.

But I believe in due process and given the number of anti-doping violation that have been traced back to tainted supplements, I am holding out judgment until we get all of the facts. But if it proven Jones knowingly used steroids, then he should absolutely be stripped of his light heavyweight crown and his title of “greatest of all-time.”

4. What is Jon Jones’ legacy in the wake of this test?

As I mentioned before there is no way you can call Jones the greatest fighter to ever grace the Octagon if it turns out he knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs to gain an advantage during his fights.

This is a man who has defeated every single future UFC Hall of Famer put in front of him in the most devastating ways possible.  He’s submitted black belts, he’s knocked out former Pride champions, he’s out-grappled Olympic wrestlers and he did it all before the age of 30. On paper, Jones has the greatest track record in MMA history. But you cannot ignore the fact he’s failed not one…not two…but three drug tests for three different drugs. For everything great he’s done in the UFC, he’s countered it with stupid mistakes outside of the Octagon.

People though Daniel Cormier was Jon Jones’ greatest opponent. But in reality, it was himself all along.

5. What is Daniel Cormier’s future now? A light heavyweight title fight?

If Jones is stripped of his title then his fight with Cormier should be overturned to a No Contest. So in my mind, Cormier is still the UFC’s reigning light heavyweight champion because his loss to Jones should be erased from the record books. He absolutely should not have to fight for a vacant belt just because his rival failed a drug test. He did nothing wrong and shouldn’t be penalized for it. 

In fact, he’s already defeated everyone else who could lay claim to being the next title challenger. If anything, we should be discussing who’s next in line for a shot at Cormier’s belt (my vote is for Volkan Oezdemir) not whether the former Olympics wrestling captain actually deserves another title shot.

Parting Thoughts

- Dana White said he was hoping to book a super fight between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic for UFC 218. That fight would’ve been a huge draw for fans, but looks destined to never happen.

- Jon Jones’ team is testing samples of supplements to “determine the validity or source of contamination.” This means Jones isn’t ready to admit fault, and is angling for a contamination defense.

- Conor McGregor could see himself defeating Floyd Mayweather with a knockout in the first 10 seconds. This is a level of confidence McGregor only reaches when he is about to do something unprecedented, like his 13-second KO win of Jose Aldo at UFC 194.