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Morning Report: Max Kellerman admits he was wrong, praises ‘exceptional fighter’ Conor McGregor

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One of Conor McGregor’s biggest doubters has seen the error of his ways.

Heading into McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxing community writ large was giving the UFC lightweight champion very little chance to upset the all-time boxing great. As it turns out, they were right, with Mayweather scoring a TKO victory in the tenth round. But even in defeat, McGregor earned respect from may of his naysayers for remaining surprisingly competitive with Mayweather and even taking a few rounds off of “The Best Ever.”

Among those boxing heads who have come around on McGregor is Max Kellerman. Kellerman is a long-time boxing commentator for HBO and an analyst at ESPN, and he was among the most vocal opponents of “The Money Fight” beforehand, claiming that the fight was such a mismatch McGregor wouldn’t even land a punch. But on ESPN’s First Take recently, Kellerman admitted that he was wrong about McGregor, praising the lightweight champion for his performance on Saturday night.

“That was the best version of what that fight could have possibly been and I want to start out by saying, Conor McGregor deserves enormous credit,” said Kellerman. “He is an exceptional fighter. An exceptional fighter. Even among champions, he stands out. And what stood out to me for Conor the boxer - first of all, he’s making his pro debut against one of the best fighters ever and he’s early on doing enough to stay in the fight. That’s amazing. Even the fact that he went 10 rounds in his pro debut is amazing.”

Kellerman wasn’t all praise for McGregor though. While he admitted a great deal of respect for what McGregor was able to accomplish on Saturday night, Kellerman also suggested that a good portion of McGregor’s success was down to Mayweather’s advancing age, and that Mayweather would be best served to make this retirement his final one.

"What we saw was Conor McGregor’s exceptional quality as a fighter on the one hand and Floyd Mayweather’s age secondarily. I don’t want to take any credit away from Conor, so I’m going to focus on that - but also Floyd at the age of 40 has to stop fighting.

"There are a lot of young fighters, several at least, who would have knocked Floyd out on Saturday night. I know he wouldn’t have fought them the exact same way but that Floyd doesn’t go the distance with Terence Crawford, may not with Errol Spence. There are a bunch of young guys who would have beaten him up that night. That’s enough, he’s retiring at the perfect time.”

One of the major storylines heading into the fight was the fact that Mayweather was 40 years old and coming off a two year retirement while McGregor is over a decade younger and in the prime of his career. In the end, Kellerman admits those advantages, and McGregor’s ability to leverage them by means of his high fight I.Q. and superior athleticism, impressed him, even if they didn’t change the outcome of the bout.

“I was wrong to say Conor wouldn’t land a punch – he landed several actual punches cleanly. He won a few rounds early when Floyd hadn’t started fighting yet, which is amazing to me. But ultimately he didn’t really have a chance to win the fight and Floyd won in the way he did partly because he is an older, flat-footed fighter now.”


MUST-READ STORIES

Results. Roxanne Modafferi advances out of the first round of the TUF 26 tournament.

6.5M. Dana White says Mayweather-McGregor sold 6.5 million PPV buys.

155. Conor McGregor insists a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz be held at 155 pounds.

Respect. Derrick Lewis estimates he’s helped over 100 people from Hurricane Harvey.

Wild. Justin Gaethje hopes violent win over Eddie Alvarez lures McGregor into a fight.


VIDEO STEW

Free fight.

Gaethje on UFC Tonight.

Mike Tyson giving Conor props.

Funny or Die on MayMac.

Aldo and Mikey Garcia.

The boys over at Mania doing some good work.

A synopsis of the last few days since MayMac.


LISTEN UP

Heavy Hands. Mayweather vs. McGregor discussion and analysis.

The Jordan Breen Show. MayMac discussion as well as talking Volkov-Struve.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

The infamous video of Dana claiming 6.5M buys.

Tito challenging Dana to donate to Houston relief.

.@DanaWhite #Houston need your support now! #hurricaneharveyreliefchallange #hurricaneharvey

A post shared by titoortiz1999 (@titoortiz1999) on

Ronda put up several more wedding photos if you’re interested.

Happiest day of my life....

A post shared by rondarousey (@rondarousey) on

The Love of my life

A post shared by rondarousey (@rondarousey) on

If 6.5M is true, things definitely did go their way.

Only 211 retweets at time of writing. . . Sounds like a no.

Paulie just beefing with everyone.

2017 and Roxanne Modafferi is ostensibly the favorite to hold a UFC title belt. MMA is a crazy game.

One of those things is not like the others.

Friendship.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

N/A.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

2013: Anthony Pettis became the UFC lightweight champion when he submitted Ben Henderson with an armbar at UFC 164. In the co-main event, former heavyweight champion Josh Barnett made his return to the UFC after an 11 year absence, knocking out Frank Mir with a knee in the first round.


FINAL THOUGHTS

If this thing actually sold 6.5 million buys, I would be shocked if Conor and Dana don’t find a way to lure Mayweather into a rematch in the octagon. Just give him a handshake saying Conor won’t take it too hard on him, and Floyd can say “I’ve already beaten you, I know how to do it again” and watch the money roll in. That rematch pulls 3 million at least and a loss won’t even go on Floyd’s boxing record.

Also, if you’re into potentially innovative stuff in MMA, check out Tim Bissell’s most recent article on Bloody Elbow about some stuff Jackson-Wink is doing to try and combat CTE in their fighters. Worth a look.

Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.


If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.