For example, former UFC lightweight champion and current Bellator star Benson Henderson was not a fan of the matchup or even how things played out in the boxing ring. Henderson spoke with ESPN on why he feels the money fight was bad for MMA and its future.
“People will start to view us like WWE,” Henderson said. “You start having freak shows like that — mock contests — and bill them as real? That’s not the way to go.
“Soon, you’ll see fights that are basically worked. ‘Oh, this guy will win, but it will be really close first.’ One guy is carrying the other, for the sake of millions. How close to the edge are we talking to a worked fight? How close to that line do we want to get? Let’s be honest. Let’s call it like we see it.”
Mayweather stated that he had implemented his gameplan, which was to let McGregor come out strong at the beginning of the fight and let him get tired. Once McGregor started to show some signs of slowing down, Mayweather turned it up and eventually earned the 10th round TKO victory.
“It’s a very slippery slope when you have a world champion boxer fighting an MMA guy for the sake of money, and he can’t knock him out in the first round,” Henderson said. “He has to make sure he carries him a little bit. For me, that’s too close to skirting the edge [of a fixed fight].
“I think Floyd even said that to a certain extent. He threw six punches in the first round. Would you not call that suspect? Make sure it lasts a couple rounds, then put him away whenever you want? That’s detrimental to the integrity of MMA, to people buying a fight thinking, ‘Oh no, this isn’t fake. It’s real. These guys aren’t carrying each other.’”
While McGregor talked his way into earning the biggest payday of his career and being part of one of, if not the richest fight in history, Henderson isn’t fond of the “loudmouths” that are getting attention with what they are doing outside of competition. However, the Bellator star admits that the current trend of loud fighters who are wearing sunglasses indoors and flaunting their boisterous personalities are taking over the sport.
“Maybe that is how you get to the ludicrous amount of dollars. Maybe I’m fighting a losing battle. But I’ve got mad respect for people like the Pitbull brothers [Freire’s] because they’re not out talking crap. All of that is watering down the authenticity of our sport. We’re fighters. Stop worrying about showing up in a fur coat. Get out of here with that.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 9/15/2017.