From the moment the superfight between UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor and retired boxing icon Floyd Mayweather was first teased, many assumed such a contest would be inside a boxing ring. In fact, McGregor even went out, applied for, and received a boxing license.
Why lose the figurative home-field advantage? Well, UFC President Dana White may have his own answer.
McGregor is pegged as a huge underdog if such a fight were to happen — ESPN’s David Purdum reports that Mayweather is a -900 favorite over the +700 McGregor (the numbers were originally -2500 and +1100, respectively). White claims that if the fight were held inside the Octagon under MMA rules, however, not only would Mayweather be the underdog, but he’d face bigger odds against him than McGregor does if the boxing fight happens.
White cites this on the number of other MMA-boxing crossover callouts that have taken place. Former longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva hopes to one day box with Roy Jones Jr., and Jose Aldo has said he dreams of having a boxing career.
"You notice none of [the boxers] are clamoring for that one [to try out MMA]. I like that one a lot better," White said at a UFC 211 media scrum. "Any of the big boxers that want to come over here and want to fight our guys, I’m in. Mayweather-McGregor would be over in 15 seconds."
A boxing star did have a bout in the UFC back in August 2010, when three-time boxing world champion James Toney faced off with UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture. With no experience in working the ground game, Toney was easily taken down and dominated by the UFC legend, with Toney tapping out in about four minutes.
White, however, claims he hasn’t considered any boxing-MMA crossover bouts other than Mayweather vs. McGregor.
"The biggest one out there is Conor vs. Mayweather. That obviously makes a lot of sense," White said. "Both guys are huge stars and they both want this fight. So, most of these other ones make no sense."
UPDATE: White tells ESPN that he’s hoping negotiations for McGregor-Mayweather are in the final stages. He hopes to confirm a deal with McGregor shortly before finalizing negotiations with Al Haymon, Mayweather’s adviser.