It wasn’t too many decades ago when boxing press conferences stopped time. It was the moments of Ali vs Frazier, Sugar Ray vs Hagler or Tyson vs anyone that captured the worlds attention. Now they have fallen to back page news.
Leave it to Connor Mcgregor and Nate Diaz to officially crown MMA the new boxing, period. Wednesday’s meeting between the two was nothing short of spectacular with both prodding another at every opportunity. There have been other entertaining ones with fighters such as Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones but nothing compared to what Diaz and the Irishman displayed.
Noted on Colin Cowherd’s sports radio show “The Herd” as fantastic TV, “it was everything boxing used to be.” Cowherd was never a fan of MMA until recently. He admitted it himself with no shame stating that he has changed his mind on the sport looking favorably on it. He went to add that boxing has officially lost it’s luster since press conference are no longer exciting or noteworthy. It was one area the UFC did not out do boxing as of yet until this week. Boxing’s biggest production of Mayweather and Pacquio was a dud including the press conference because there was zero edge to or fire between the two. Cowherd stated the two sat and complemented each other the whole time which made for no build up to the fight.
Connor Mcgregor is getting a lot of heat from other fighters for his antics and verbal assaults on basically everyone including heavyweight Fabricio Werdum, but deserves all the credit in the world for upping the UFC’s profile even more in the past year. The featherweight champion is bringing a whole new attitude to the game stating that weight classes and size means nothing. He explains that the better fighter is all that matters proclaiming himself as the best by far in any division as he hints about going to welterweight to challenge Robbie Lawlor soon.
McGregor, who claims to be creating his own division and weight class, is nothing short of must-watch while Diaz held his own, accusing him and everyone else of using steroids which fired up the champ. Diaz who is one of the most popular fighters in the world along with his brother Nick is finally getting his due thanks to McGregor. It has not been publicized officially but Nate will be considered a Millionare win or lose after the fight is concluded. A huge pay raise compared to his usual 100k combined show/win purse of the past.
None of this happens without the brash Irishman’s charismatic words and fighting prowess. Cowherd played parts of the two going back and forth with nothing but admiration for the two fighters. I am a regular listener to his show and braced myself when he first mentioned as a teaser before a commercial break thinking he was going to rip the event and sport down only to do the exact opposite gushing with compliments explaining what the UFC and sport has accomplished. The fact he has turned an appreciation for the sport in any capacity shows how main stream the sport has become. A huge step in my opinion from a sports radio personality with strong opinionated views.
UFC 196 is now going to be a huge record breaking event all because of McGregor who claims he “created all this” which he truthfully did. No fighter or writer can deny what he is doing right now. He is setting the sport “ablaze” and has his next few fights planned out.
Another date and match up with Dos Anjos is gonna be difficult now that the date of their fight has been set back. I doubt the fight happens anytime soon because only more options will appear if he beats Diaz impressively. This was Dos Anjos lottery ticket to take care of his wife and kids for life. That fight will compete with a Lawlor matchup as mentioned earlier which is crazy when you think about. Now it’s a matter of which belt he wants to fight for or which garners more money.
Nate Diaz comes into the fight off an impressive victory over Michael Johnson. There are mixed reports of his physical condition that state he was currently training for an ironman race while others say he has not sparred since his last training camp. Regardless it is sure to be an exciting collision and who knows if this will be the only time they meet. There is also a possibility of Nick getting in on all this fun depending on how this shakes out.
It’s safe to say that Mcgregor is basically Diaz 2.0 in a personality sense with the work ethic and drive to capitalize on the riches available. It was said by Nate that during his extended vacation last year, it was Mcgregor who fueled his fire again. He explained that watching him “take everything he has worked for Mother…”, motivated the Stockton fighter to become active once again. I believe it brought BJ Penn back as well. He is showing these overly talented fighters that there is no ceiling in the fight game.
I am sure all this has been planned out already by Connor as he seems to be many steps ahead of everyone. One thing is for sure is that there is no shortage of interesting match ups in his future and it seems he is playing a major role in his matchups.
The leaps the UFC took this past week were huge and the gap between them and boxing got even bigger.