Conor McGregor’s ascension from trainee plumber to superstardom has been built on more than just his death-touch left hand.
It’s a big factor, of course, but MMA is awash with knockout artists, yet few have had the ability to sketch out the career McGregor has in such a short timeframe.
What has separated the Irishman from the rest is his unparalleled self belief which has berthed practically flawless pre-fight predictions.
Nothing about his career has surprised him. To the UFC lightweight champion, he’s seen it all before and his propheserical talents conceived the nickname ‘Mystic Mac’.
Aside from the defeat to Nate Diaz, McGregor has perfectly predicted five stoppages to justify the tag – Eddie Alvarez, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Dustin Poirier and Diego Brandao have all been victims of his forecast.
However, in preparation for the mega event with Floyd Mayweather, the 29-year-old has taken on a new moniker – ‘Magic Mac’.
Indeed, McGregor has transitioned from oracle to magician, constructing an illusion of victory which has fooled a mass audience.
He has come in from 10/1 to 3/1 on the betting market over the last few weeks in what is a clear indication of support on an exponential scale.
To put that in perspective, McGregor, who is making not just his professional debut but his boxing debut, has odds equivalent to the last man to face Mayweather, Andre Berto.
McGregor’s resolute oration in promising to flatten Mayweather has spellbound and charmed supporters in believing the impossible will occur in Las Vegas.
While it’s true boxing stands alone in the irony of being so fractionally followed yet massively opined, few have looked beyond McGregor’s ‘aura’ in providing the formula to unlocking the defence of a supremely gifted boxer, who in 49 fights against elite-level competition has been a ghost.
Many of the McGregor army will point to age as a deciding factor. After all, Mayweather is 11 years senior to his adversary at 40.
But on the topic of nicknames, ‘Money’ has never been hit on the money. He doesn’t have the mileage of an offensive-style fighter and even if physically he’s slowed down, mentally he’s as sharp as ever.
That’s all Mayweather needs.
He spends the first four-six rounds reading his opponent and once he’s figured them out runs away with the fight.
McGregor has approached the bout as an MMA fighter facing a boxer, rather than the pure boxer v boxer scenario and that could mean we see some unorthodox shots.
But inexperience will mean he’ll only have limited tricks at his disposal and it won’t take Mayweather long to figure him out, when McGregor’s traps fail the illusion will slip because he’ll only be able to use each set-up once.
Ultimately, he’ll be one-dimensional and that’s just from a technical standpoint, bring in the conditioning element and another hurdle is introduced.
There are just too many insurmountables and this predetermined defeat will ring truer than any of McGregor’s own prophecies.
The only semblance of doubt comes in the form of Mayweather’s victory whether it’s a mid-to-late stoppage or brutal decision.
Although the result is predestined the manner of it will be decisive for the UFC.
Indeed, the conclusion of August 2017 could yet prove to be the most catastrophic in the promotion’s history.
UFC president Dana White has spoken of his nerves leading up to Sunday’s bout and the trepidation should be palpable throughout the entire company.
In the week the UFC lost the greatest of all time and pay-per-view star in light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones to another failed drugs test, the aura of their other big asset could slip, too.
An embarrassment for McGregor will be painful and a complete recovery far from guaranteed.
When White looks at his stable on Sunday he could be left without a single cash cow to generate PPVs buys from.
He, arguably more than most, will be hoping more than magic is at play in the T-Mobile Arena.
Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor finally fight at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.
America’s Mayweather plans to retire after surpassing the great Rocky Marciano and improving his record to 50-0, while McGregor is targeting victory against an all-time great on his professional debut.
Ahead of the weigh-in on Friday evening, Press Association Sport analyses how the two fighters compare.
Rounds boxed: 387
Height: 5ft 8in
Reach: 72in / 183cm
Twitter followers: 7.4m
Twitter mentions since June 14: 5.5m
Most retweeted tweet since June 14: 99,000
Reported estimated wealth: £265m
Rounds boxed: 0
Height: 5ft 9in
Reach: 74in / 188cm
Twitter followers: 5.5m
Twitter mentions since June 14: 8m
Most retweeted tweet since June 14: 253,000
Reported estimated wealth: £26.5m
Anthony Joshua would be willing to box a mixed martial artist or accept a cage fight in the future.
The IBF and WBA heavyweight champion is presently awaiting confirmation of his next title defence against Kubrat Pulev at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on November 11 or, more likely, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on October 28.
He will not attend Saturday’s fight, also at the T-Mobile Arena, when Conor McGregor makes his professional boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather because he is beginning preparations for his Bulgarian mandatory challenger.
However, while the Mayweather-McGregor bout is dividing opinion, Joshua can see the appeal.
He said: “I like fighting, I’d do whatever.
“I’d probably get beaten. The only thing that they can’t do is submissions, but they can kick, elbow, bite – whatever they want. Just no submissions.
“I can’t beat a guy (via submission). That takes a lot of time to learn the skills and submissions, which I don’t have the time for, but when it comes to pure aggression and fighting rules, I can definitely fight, so I don’t mind that.
“It wouldn’t be a problem. If you look at most boxers who’ve crossed over to MMA, they get beaten on the ground. James Toney, Roy Jones, they were phenomenal boxers but they just couldn’t compete in the cage because of the ‘ground and pound’ game.
“I’ve been away with the family and need to get back to reality. Sitting on the beach getting my toes rubbed, that’s not the life of an athlete.
“I’ve got to get back to the gutter, keep organised, keep disciplined. I’ve done my holidays and need to get back to the military mindset I live.”
— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocicufc) August 3, 2017
The likelihood remains that McGregor will convincingly lose to the finest boxer of the modern era, potentially minimising the appeal of future crossover fights.
Joshua is among the many who give the Irishman little chance of victory, and the 27-year-old said: “It’s probably (going to be) a landslide. Look at the great fighters
Mayweather’s fought, and he’s made them look average. Some of the fighters Mayweather’s fought would probably beat Conor McGregor as well; Conor can’t really compete.
“He’s coming out of his field and going into Mayweather’s domain. Even though he’s an excellent fighter in UFC, he’s not an excellent boxer. Him crossing over is going to be a real, big challenge.
“He could give a good account of himself; I think Mayweather will win but as long as he gives a good account of himself, it’ll work really well for him.
“I don’t think Mayweather’s done it for the money, I don’t think he needs the money: he’s done well from boxing. Conor was calling him out and people were saying they wanted to see the fight. The fans dictate the fight: if they want to see it, they get it.
“You can’t fight with a pay cheque, you can only fight with heart: that’s the only thing that gets you through tough times.”
Provided by Press Association Sport