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Fightweets: Mayweather, McGregor, and eight-ounce gloves

Conor McGregor Esther Lin, Showtime

One week left until Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor enter the ring at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Can you even imagine reading that sentence even a year ago? Well, it’s real, and this week, the Nevada Athletic Commission’s approval of a shift from 10-ounce gloves down to eight ounces became a chapter of the the books that will inevitably be written about this fight, right up there with the World Tour and the Paulie Malignaggi sparring session. So let’s get right into it, then.

NAC treats stars with kid gloves

@DuaneBarth: Are you concerned about today's NAC mishandling of #MayMac glove size rule including disregard of Ringside Physicians Assoc written dissent

The way some folks have gone on about the NAC’s ruling on Wednesday to allow Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor to compete with eight-ounce gloves, rather than the 10-ouncers standard for 154-pounders, you would think the commission just allowed a pair of heavyweights to throw down in a bareknuckle fight with unlimited rounds during the daytime in a makeshift outdoor stadium in the desert.

In reality, the bout is being contested at 154 pounds, which is just one weight class higher than the usual cutoff for eight-ouncers. It’s highly unlikely anything particularly bad is going to come out of this particular change.

But the decision is still problematic on a number of levels, the biggest of which is the NAC’s willingness to scuttle their own rules without any real precedent or valid reasoning if there’s a sense they can wring another dollar out of a fight.

Since the dismissal of notorious commissioner Pat Lundvall, who had a remarkable ability to put personal vendettas ahead of common sense, Nevada’s gotten appreciably better about their knack for heaping unreasonable punishments on people simply to demonstrate their power for its own sake. We haven’t seen any arbitrary Nick Diaz-esque electric chair-for-jaywalking-type sentences handed out recently.

That’ an undeniable improvement, but kowtowing to those who bring the commission the biggest money goes on unabated. Never forget through all this -- through this wild-roller coaster of a summer that has jolted the MMA world out of its doldrums -- that the entire Mayweather-McGregor circus was predicated on allowing a boxer with a 49-0 record to fight one who had never competed in a pro boxing match.

Do you think for a second they’d allow some random, non-superstar veteran to fight someone in their pro debut? Of course not. But this is Mayweather, the biggest moneymaker in Nevada fight history, bringing his gravy train back around for one more serving, and McGregor, the fighter putting up the most consistent big gates in his absence. If the gate at T-Mobile hits $100 million, the NAC’s five percent of the gate makes it a $5 million night for the commission.

One gets the impression that if the current NAC board was around in 1998, they would have approved a request to book a Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield rematch in which one could only win by biting off their opponent’s ear. As long as there’s a dollar to be made, there’s no standard that can’t be made double.

Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee

@ArpanLobo: Should the UFC have held off on Lee-Ferg until Detroit? Both guys wrestled at in-state GVSU, and Lee's narrative is obvious.

Not bad thinking on your part at all. The more Georges St-Pierre in Montreal or Stipe Miocic in Cleveland-type events the UFC can create for fighters in their hometowns, the better.

But I also understand why the fight makes sense for UFC 216 in Las Vegas. The UFC very much needed a title fight for this date. McGregor isn’t going to be defending the lightweight belt anywhere in the short-term future. Ferguson hasn’t fought since last November. UFC 218 in Detroit, which was seem a good landing spot if you’re going to go with Fergy and Lee, isn’t until December. Lee fought less than two months ago.

By making this matchup now, UFC gets a marquee fight, Ferguson doesn’t spend more time bouncing off the walls of his house than he has to, and Lee has a reasonable amount of time to turn it around. It’s not a perfect scenario but we’ve seen the UFC do far worse.

What about Khabib?

@msolis1982: Who does Khabib fight now that he's out of contention for a title shot?

Then, of course, there’s the other major factor in the lightweight title picture, Khabib Nurmagomedov. The one thing black-and-white about the undefeated Nurmagomedov is that when he fights, he’s nearly unbeatable. Of course, he’s only fought three times in the past four years. And every rumored Khabib fight always seems to end up in finger-pointing and social-media trash talking and some sort of he-said, she-said story about who wanted to fight on what date and who didn’t. When that happens often enough, that’s how you end up with the UFC thinking it would be a whole let less hassle to just give the fight to someone who is on the cusp anyway, like Lee.

No respect

@MesozoicReptile: How does Alexey sub Travis then get booked against #15 Curtis?

See, some guys happen to be the fiance of one of the most popular stars in the history of the UFC, who also happen to be a client of the current ownership, so they get chance after chance after chance no matter how many times they lose and look horrible doing so.

Then sometimes, you’re the guy who beat Travis Browne, and you’re 40 years old, have already been in 63 pro fights, don’t speak English, and, let’s just say, much like myself, you’re never going to appear on the cover of ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue.

So when that does happen, even when you’ve won four out of your five UFC fights and all of your victories have been finished inside of two rounds, well, that’s when you find yourself fighting Curtis Blaydes in your next fight, rather than continuing to climb up the ladder and taking on higher-ranked opposition.

Such is the case for Oleksiy Oliynyk. It’s not like WME invented this pattern of booking. Jon Fitch had to win eight UFC straight fights (at the time tying Royce Gracie’s record for what was the longest UFC win streak) and have the other goings-on in the division break his way before he got a crack at then welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Oliynyk, while clearly not having the clock on his side, is going to have to make it so the promoters have no choice but to put him on a similar track.


@hunt5588: Honest thoughts on two fights announced this week: Brown v Sanchez & Rico v Bigfoot.

I mean, these are both kind of bad, but they’re two completely different levels of bad. Sanchez and Brown are both pretty plainly on the downside. Sanchez has suffered two first-round knockouts in his past three fights and is 3-5 in his last eight. He’s also about to enter his third weight class in his past five fights and is going up in weight. Brown, meanwhile, has lost three in a row and has been finished in all of them.

But at least there’s a logic to this sort of matchmaking. When the two are paired off at UFC Fight Night 120, you’re basically giving the loser a big flashing neon sign of a hint that it’s time to move on (Of course, Nate Marquardt, at 3-8 in his past 11, is booked on the same card, so being given a hint and taking it are two different things).

And at least it’s a matchup of two fighters at similar points in their career. The booking of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in a kickboxing match with champion Rico Verhoeven on Oct. 14 in China is borderline criminal.

Silva has no experience as a competitive kickboxer. Verhoeven is the current Glory heavyweight champion. Before you say “but MayMac,” unlike Conor McGregor, who is a world champion in his prime at age 28, the 37-year-old Silva is 1-8-1 in his past 10 MMA fights and was stopped in seven of those losses.

Sanchez and Brown aren’t quite at the point where the people closest to him should be telling him it’s time to stop. But Silva is. It’s a failure of those around him to keep this from happening.

What if ...

@pinheiroandre: What happens if McGregor wins the fight?

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