Conor McGregor’s first foray into boxing will happen on Aug. 26, when he faces off with Floyd Mayweather in arguably one of the biggest events of all time. The UFC lightweight champion stands to make over $100 million from one single fight.
McGregor has become the UFC’s cash cow over the past few years because his appearances on pay-per-view have been like an ATM machine for the promotion where he just prints money against virtually any opponent.
But now there may be a bigger problem considering how much McGregor will clear for one night’s work against Mayweather: Would he ever have the financial incentive to return to the UFC again?
UFC president Dana White has insisted that McGregor has told him that he not only plans to return to defend his lightweight title, but he’s even teased booking his next fight before the end of 2017. UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and former title contender Kenny Florian had varying opinions on the matter during the latest episode of “UFC Tonight.”
Woodley believes a big part of McGregor’s next move may depend on pulling off the upset against Mayweather, who will step into the fight with a perfect 49-0 record during his boxing career. McGregor beating him in his first professional match would almost assuredly force Mayweather into a rematch situation, which means the UFC champion could virtually demand whatever payment he wants to give him a second shot.
“I think he will fight again. It really just depends on where his head is at,” Woodley explained. “Because we can all say ‘oh I can keep on fighting.’ He’s going to make a lot of money. That money can set somebody up for life if they do it right and invest it.
“If he goes out there and he smokes Floyd Mayweather, I think we’re going to see him fight Floyd Mayweather again and he’s going to make more money.”
On the flipside, Florian feels that McGregor being worked over by Mayweather could be the reason why the Irishman never returns to the UFC.
There have been plenty of critics who have predicted that Mayweather will not only beat McGregor but he will walk through the former two-division champion with relative ease. If that happens, Florian sees McGregor cashing his check and walking away from combat sports forever.
“I think if Conor gets beat up badly in this fight, I don’t think he’s going to come back in any capacity,” Florian said. “If he gets out of this with a 12 round loss or whatever and doesn’t take too much damage, I think we’ll see him again. Certainly if he wins, we might see him again.”
Woodley actually takes the exact opposite approach because for as much as McGregor likes touting how much money he makes, he also loves creating a legacy that he can leave behind when it’s all done. McGregor talked about becoming a two-division champion on the day he arrived in the UFC and Woodley can’t imagine he’d be OK retiring after being handed a decisive loss by Mayweather.
“I think if he gets beat up bad, he comes back and redeems himself,” Woodley. “I think he has too much pride and too much ego. He’s a smart guy but he still allows that pride and ego to play a factor.
“If he gets beat up by Floyd just like when he lost to Nate [Diaz], he wanted to get right back in there and fight again.”
One other factor that Florian takes into account is McGregor surviving 12-rounds with Mayweather and then using the attention that fight will get him to build an even bigger event around his return to the UFC.
“I think that if Conor realizes there’s going to be a lot of eyes on him in this fight against Floyd, maybe he brings a lot of those eyes over for his next UFC fight and goes ‘I’m just going to keep making money, baby’,” Florian said.
Of course, McGregor will be the one making the final decision on whether the money made from Mayweather will keep him happy or if cementing his legacy in the UFC while still making millions will be enough incentive for him to return.