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UFC 213 fighters weigh in on Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

LOS ANGELES -- UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas is a big event in its own right. UFC 214 in Anaheim a few weeks later is even bigger.

But for the next two months, one event will loom over everything else: the Aug. 26 boxing match in Las Vegas between undefeated superstar Floyd Mayweather and the only fighter to ever simultaneously hold two UFC weight-class titles, Conor McGregor.

And nearly all the fighters featured at Thursday’s UFC 213 media day in Downtown Los Angeles had an opinion on the matter.

“I’m rooting for Mayweather,” said former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, who meets Alistair Overeem in a trilogy fight at UFC 213. “One hundred percent. I like him, he’s a nice guy. Conor McGregor doesn’t respect each fighter in the different divisions. He has a big mouth. This is not good.”

Werdum, who has worked as an analyst for the UFC’s Spanish-language broadcasts, understands that McGregor is going to cash in. But he didn’t need to dig too deep into his analyst playbook to explain why he believes Mayweather will win.

“McGregor will win in another way: He’ll make a lot of millions,” Werdum said. “He’s a smart guy. He got this fight, he’ll promote this fight. But in this fight, I think Mayweather will win, it won’t be close. Mayweather will play with him.”

If anyone in the room was qualified to look at the fight from both the boxing and MMA perspectives, it’s middleweight contender Yoel Romero. Romero’s brother, Yoan Pablo Hernandez, is the former IBF cruiserweight champion.

But perhaps surprisingly, Romero says they haven’t discussed Mayweather-McGregor much.

“Me and my brother, we barely talk about sports,” said Romero, who meets Robert Whittaker for the interim middleweight title at UFC 213. “We talk about God, the theater, we love movies and comedies but we don’t really talk about sports very much.”

Like Werdum, Romero doesn’t sound like he’s about to put money down on McGregor winning any time soon.

“if we talk about [Mayweather], the man who all his life has wanted to beat [Rocky] Marciano’s record, he managed to do it, to tie it,” Romero said. “You think that now he’s going to lose a fight to someone who is not a boxer? He’s going to tear his head off.”

Whether McGregor can make a respectable showing against Mayweather, in Romero’s mind, comes down to how much speed McGregor can display against one of the Sweet Science’s speediest competitors.

“We have to see how fast Conor is,” Romero continued. “It’s not how hard he hits. I know he hits. How fast can he be? The question is, how fast or whether he has some speed. These are the questions that should be asked. I think he would last the 12 rounds. He hits from the outside, he hits from the inside, he grapples people, and this could also be a strategy that he poses in order to get through 12 rounds.”

McGregor did find one potential supporter in UFC 213’s headliner, Amanda Nunes, who defends her bantamweight title in the main event against Valentina Shevchenko.

Nunes subscribes to the theory that McGregor could catch Mayweather early, before Mayweather settles into his groove.

“I think it will be an awesome fight,” Nunes said. “[McGregor] could win. I think he has a chance, you know. Things can happen. I think ... the first round, maybe the first three, I think he can beat Mayweather. He’s fast.”

Most fighters seemed able to agree on one thing, whether or not they like the UFC lightweight champ: They admire his ability to make a killer payday. Count Justin Gaethje among them.

“They’re going to make a sh*t ton of money,” the former WSOF lightweight champ said. “McGregor is a genius. I’d love to make $100 million. I’d respect him more if he defended his belt, but that’s neither here nor there.”

Gaethje and his opponent at next week’s TUF Finale, Michael Johnson, is about the only fighter who didn’t express much interest in Mayweather-McGregor either way.

“I don’t give a f*ck about that fight,” Johnson said. “I’ve got my own thing going on. When fight night happens, sure, I’ll watch it, but I ain’t paying for it. That’s it though, it’s not like we’re sitting around talking about it at the gym.”

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