Friday, November 24, 2017
Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather
Photo Credit: MMAJunkie/USA Today Sports

HOW Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather

This is a two-part series. This piece discusses how Conor McGregor beats Floyd Mayweather. Check out the other piece which discusses why it will happen. Don’t forget to tell me how wrong I am at @GMS_CaseyHodgin

On August 26th, an MMA superstar will lace up the boxing gloves for a go at one the sport’s greatest competitors. If Conor McGregor beats Floyd Mayweather, it will not only be the biggest upset of combat sports history, but it will spark a (r)evoultion of fight analysis. I am thoroughly convinced that this will happen, and I hope you read all the way through to understand how:

HOW Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather

Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather
Photo Credit: Esther Linn/Showtime

McGregor will be bringing an unconventional approach to the boxing ring. Some call it unorthodox or awkward, but I think unconventional is the right word as he will literally go against convention to win. So, the big question to ask is:

“How will McGregor’s unconventional approach win him the fight?”

Let’s get into this:

Over the years, the sport of boxing has become more refined rather than evolved. It has defined itself through hundreds of years of tradition, doctrine, and unspoken rules-of-thumb. In today’s current state, boxing is not so much about coming up with new answers to new questions, but rather, coming up with the best version of old answers for any and all questions.

For example, “boxing technique” is one of the biggest things that boxing aficionados like to criticize. McGregor’s punching technique has been criticized heavily because it doesn’t fit the format of what boxing determines to be “correct”. But can it work? Of course. In fact, it can even work better than the “correct” way.

Let me explain:

Mayweather is regarded as the best defensive boxer of all time and arguably the best boxer ever. He’s able to read his opponent, anticipate what he is going to do, and have the answer for it as soon as possible. However, in doing so, he has programmed his brain like that of a computer. After 21 years of professional boxing, Mayweather has grown accustomed to reading the movements of boxers so that even the smallest shift in an opponent’s frame can tell him what punch is coming, at what angle, and what his answer needs to be. That’s why his performances haven’t waned at all even late into his 30s and now 40s; he has more data to draw upon than most other boxers.

Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather
Photo Credit: Esther Linn/Showtime

Not to mention, he accesses this data through a very powerful CPU (his brain, which has taken very little damage for being 40 years old).

His 49-0 record is obviously impressive, but you must understand that those 49 wins are against boxers who all operate under the same set of rules; they grow up boxing, get taught boxing, learn under boxing coaches, and fight other boxers. It’s a very close-minded culture that has refined itself through generation.

It takes someone removed from the years and years of boxing tradition to be able to see through the fog of all the things boxing labels “incorrect”.

When looking at McGregor, it’s very obvious he doesn’t possess the same technique as Mayweather (or any top-level boxer for that matter). In fact, there’s no way in the 3-month build up to this fight Conor could ever develop matching technique – but that’s because he doesn’t have to.

Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather
Photo Credit: Esther Linn/Showtime

Conor McGregor doesn’t move like a boxer therefore he can’t be read as a boxer.

You don’t defeat Mayweather by trying to be a better version of him; you defeat Mayweather by becoming a different version that is better.

A lot of fans question whether McGregor has the gas tank, toughness, or skill to last with Mayweather. However, the burden of having to prove oneself does not lie with McGregor. Mayweather will have the task of figuring McGregor out. Why? Because that’s Mayweather’s conventional approach, and he hasn’t evolved it.

Let me highlight some key concepts that you will certainly see McGregor use to confuse, overwhelm, and ultimately defeat Mayweather with.

Distance

Distance is perhaps the most significant area Conor McGregor beats Floyd Mayweather at. In boxing, there are really only 3 distances: long-range, the pocket, and the clinch (you may call them different names)

Long-range; both fighters are too far apart to accurately hit each other. Pocket; both fighters are within range. Clinch; both fighters are too close.

During McGregor’s training camp, he invited former two-time boxing champion and Showtime boxing analyst Paulie Malignaggi in to spar with him. They sparred a total of 16 rounds before Malignaggi left the camp early.

In the leaked sparring footage, we see McGregor tag Malignaggi with several big shots – one being a straight left that Paulie didn’t seem to know was coming. Of course, several boxing aficionados watched these clips and critiqued McGregor’s technique; they say he overextended on his left hand and doesn’t stay anchored to the ground.

The idea of staying planted while throwing punches is a good example of one of these boxing doctrines that McGregor will look to exploit. It’s said that doing this robs a fighter of power and opens him to easy counters, but McGregor has power to spare and has been a master of long-range punching for years.

Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather
Photo Credit: Conor McGregor/Instagram

The pocket is an area that McGregor will need to watch himself in most. We really haven’t seen McGregor exchange blows in the pocket because most of his opponents are not willing to play that game. McGregor hits too hard and his chin is too solid. 1-for-1 exchanges with the man will always always favor McGregor.

The clinch has always been every boxer’s best friend. It’s a place to go to when they need to catch a break, kill some time, or wear their opponent down. However, McGregor’s clinch game is going to feel very alien to Mayweather. It’s hard to put into the words the difference in strength someone who has grappled has over someone who hasn’t. If McGregor and Mayweather lock up, we’ll see McGregor manipulate him in ways he doesn’t even understand.

Movement

I already touched on this earlier, but to put it simply – Conor McGregor does not move like a boxer. He will be very difficult to read, and knowing this, McGregor can be very creative with how he disguises attacks.

Obviously, McGregor isn’t going to be able to throw any kicks in this fight. Doing so will result in a DQ and forfeiture of his purse. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t feint with kicks. In his open media workout, I saw McGregor begin his rounds with what looked like a fake switch-knee. It obviously doesn’t have any real offensive substance, but even if it makes Mayweather freeze up for .1 seconds, it could be a useful weapon.

Conor McGregor Beats Floyd Mayweather
Photo Credit: Conor McGregor/Instagram

Another movement-oriented advantage McGregor has is his feet. Most throw shade at McGregor’s movement drills, but he’s undoubtedly nimble on his feet. I suspect we’ll see McGregor throw in an Ali Shuffle here and there to try and lure Mayweather in. He may lack the “technical footwork” that most boxers possess, but does he need it? If he’s stepping in places that Mayweather isn’t suspecting it will only open up windows of opportunity.

And just like that, we see how Conor McGregor beats Floyd Mayweather on August 26th. His head coach, John Kavanagh came out and gave his official prediction for how he sees the fight going. Basically, if Mayweather comes forward (like he said he would) then the fight will be over in the first round. However, if he fights overly defensive (like we know he will) then Kavanagh is expecting a finish by round 6.

As for me, I’m very confident that McGregor will give Mayweather some serious troubles in the early going. The first 4 rounds will be key as that will be Mayweather’s chance to try and adjust to McGregor’s unconventional boxing approach. He’ll be speaking a different language, playing a different game, and most importantly – McGregor will not be boxing.

He’s not trying to outbox Mayweather, he’s just trying to beat him.

I believe Conor McGregor beats Floyd Mayweather in under 6 rounds. If Mayweather gets that far, then we might see Mayweather limp his way to the end. Either way, we will see (r)evolution.

Credit where credit is due:

A lot of the concepts I bring up in this piece come from fight analyst Robin Black. Check him out on his YouTube channel here.

Thank you so much for reading this piece. Please, if you haven’t, go read the other part of this series which discusses why Conor McGregor beats Floyd Mayweather.

Whether you think I’m right or wrong, I want to hear it – follow me on Twitter at @GMS_CaseyHodgin

About Casey Hodgin

Casey is a passionate MMA writer and journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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