(Check the watches and necklaces…that’s the difference between MMA money and boxing money.)
A minor hubbub was caused this weekend when an ESPN.com article reported that boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather met with HDNet owner Mark Cuban to discuss “a revolutionary jump to mixed martial arts.” Said Mayweather’s advisor/friend Leonard Ellerbe:
“It’s definitely something he is interested in, and when Floyd makes his move, obviously it’s going to be a mega event…Mark Cuban is a very successful businessman and has some very, very successful business ventures that we’ve discussed…Doing an MMA event with him is most definitely something we are looking at, among many things we are looking at doing with Mark Cuban.”
In turn, Cuban was quoted as saying:
“Floyd is considering fighting with HDNet Fights. We are going to let him visit some gyms to talk to some folks about what it would take to learn. He knows it won’t be easy. But he is getting involved with MMA and HDNet Fights one way or another. He is pumped about it. He wants to go on to the next big thing. Floyd is a brilliant marketer. He follows the money…If I said there’s a guaranteed $30 million payday, Floyd would be lacing them up.”
For the benefit of the dangerously naive, everything in that last quote that I didn’t put bold tags around is utter horseshit, intended to hype up the fact that Floyd Mayweather will soon be having some sort of involvement in HDNet Fights. Mark Cuban, who has been tight with Mayweather since their stint on Dancing With the Stars, is floating that stuff about Mayweather visiting MMA gyms so that you, the stupid fight fan, will pay close attention to Mayweather’s next move (and by extension, HDNet’s). But Mayweather himself never said he’d be strapping on some four-ounce gloves and stepping into a cage. Here’s what he actually did say, two weeks ago, after his TKO of Ricky Hatton: “I don’t know if I’ll fight again. I’m not going to let boxing retire me, I’ll retire from boxing. I accomplished all that I could as a fighter. Now it’s time to be a promoter.”
Let’s take it from the top, because I feel like y’all aren’t hearing me.
Back in April, Mayweather made some very disparaging remarks about mixed martial arts, claiming that any MMA champion would get beaten by a moderately skilled boxer. Dana White immediately offered him a fight against Sean Sherk, which Mayweather pre-emptively turned down, saying “Why would I go into a sport paying hundreds of thousands when I’m in a sport paying $20 million?”
Right, so since April, which of the following do you think occurred: 1) Mayweather gained a deeper understanding of and respect for MMA, and decided that maybe he’d try his hand at the sport after all, or 2) Mayweather, with the help of Mark Cuban, realized that there’s money to be made with this MMA shit.
Related question: Do you think that in the last two weeks, Mayweather did a total 180 and decided that he would fight again, and that he would hold off on the fight-promoting so he could learn jiu-jitsu?
If you answered, “He follows the money,” you’re right. See, the newsworthy quote from the ESPN.com article is “he is getting involved with MMA and HDNet Fights one way or another,” not the part about him looking at MMA training to see if it’s up his alley. That’s just the con-line to hook your attention. Maybe it’ll be as simple as him throwing some money at HDNet Fights, but Floyd Mayweather is looking at MMA as an investment opportunity, not as a new avenue of competition. It’s shocking how many MMA news sites are picking up this story as “Mayweather may fight MMA!”, like it’s a legitimate rumor, when the real (just as interesting) story is staring them in the face. It’s called critical reading, you rubes. In fact, the biggest tip-off is that bit about how Mayweather would take an MMA fight for $30 million. That’s not a negotiation — it’s an alibi. No MMA organization is going to pay Mayweather that much scratch to show up, and he knows it. Mark Cuban is the only guy who has enough cash on hand to make it happen, and he’s smart enough not to do it.
Look for Mayweather to visit Xtreme Couture, get some photos taken, announce that he doesn’t have the time to seriously commit to training as an MMA fighter (“But I’ll tell you, man, those guys are a lot more talented than I thought, they get all my respect”), and then announce that he’s taken some sort of promotional role with HDNet Fights. He’ll sink some money into building the brand, organize some superfights, and show up at events to hype up the crowd. But trust me, the dude isn’t even thinking about backing up the big words he had in April. So, to all the fight fans who, even for a moment, thought that an epic 145-pound battle between “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather and Urijah “The California Kid” Faber was just around the corner, all I can say is good luck; I’d imagine that life hasn’t been easy for you and I fear that it will only get worse.