Will Conor McGregor return to boxing in the coming months to face Manny Pacquiao in another ridiculous superfight with an obvious outcome? Or is this all just part of hardball negotiations between McGregor and the UFC as “The Notorious” struggles to get back in the cage?
Perhaps it’s both. But as it stands, it looks like plans are moving forward to make McGregor vs. Pacquiao a reality. On Saturday Manny Pacquiao’s camp confirmed the Filipino boxer and senator had accepted the fight and was planning on putting the majority of his purse towards COVID-19 relief in the Philippines.
“For the sake of all the Filipino Covid-19 victims, Senator Manny Pacquiao will be fighting UFC superstar Conor McGregor next year,” the statement read. “The huge portion of his earnings will proceed to those who are affected nationwide by the pandemic.”
Not exactly the kind of message you’d release if the fight was vaporware designed to pump up McGregor’s UFC paycheck, that’s for sure.
It also looks like McGregor and the UFC are further away from resolving their differences than ever. McGregor ‘retired’ from the UFC earlier in 2020, citing frustration with the promotion’s unwillingness to work with him on making his dream of a ‘fight season’ happen. And over UFC 253 weekend Conor drew the ire of UFC president Dana White by sharing screenshots of messages between the two that contradicted White’s claims about McGregor’s desire to compete. McGregor responded by calling White a liar.
It all boils down to a situation where McGregor seems very interested in fighting and making money, while the UFC would rather keep him on the sidelines until fans can attend and shell out millions on a gate to see him compete. The way the UFC is rolling right now without “Notorious,” you get the feeling they’d be fine with him packed away in bubblewrap until Khabib Nurmagomedov is free sometime mid 2021.
Unfortunately McGregor is something of a force of nature and has already proven he’s prepared to go his own way if necessary. His 2017 boxing match against Floyd Mayweather was something McGregor made happen against the UFC’s wishes. He went so far as to state he’d use the Ali Act to break out of his UFC contract if necessary. We imagine the same threat is being used to hang a sword over the UFC’s head again.
“I’d rather fight MMA anyway not sure why I’ve been held back like this, it’s borderline criminal at this stage,” McGregor wrote on Instagram. “The biggest number generator in the game asking for four fights since February this year and getting left on seen. It’s pretty f**ked up when I keep thinking of it. I’ve been right here this whole time.”
It’s just another sign that the UFC’s rigid ‘my way or the highway’ method of negotiating is causing them unnecessary headaches. But so long as Dana White is in control of the promotion, everything will continue to go through him, even if it results in the sports’ biggest stars sitting on the bench while he concentrates on basics like keeping the promotion rolling during the Coronavirus pandemic.