Jake Rossen paints an intriguing scenario:
So long as Mayweather and Pacquiao linger, they will continue to prove boxing's last great bit of bragging: For as much progress as MMA has made in the past five years, it's clear that the biggest boxing fights almost completely bury the biggest MMA bouts, and by a considerable margin. The UFC had a rumored 1.5 million household rate for UFC 100, which was due in majority part to the considerable drawing power of Brock Lesnar. Boxing still holds the record for purchases with a 2007 bout between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya: 2.4 million. Both Pacquiao and Mayweather have broken the 1 million mark independent of one another.
..but there are still bouts that could fill bigger arenas. Had Anderson Silva not whiffed against Demian Maia in Abu Dhabi last month, the UFC might have drawn their largest home revenue gate ever in a super-fight with Georges St. Pierre: It's this sport's closest equivalent to Mayweather-Pacquiao, with two seemingly invulnerable forces going at it. Silva will need a fight or two of pure domination to light that fire again; Brock Lesnar versus Fedor Emelianenko would draw more than 1 million buys with no blinking. It also seems unlikely until one or both men are past the point of backing up their reputations.
In the end, the UFC's greatest opportunity of seeing a buy rate comparable to boxing's at the highest level is collusion: So long as he remains undefeated, Mayweather versus a mixed martial artist would be the kind of spectacle that would infect every conceivable demographic out there. (It's also virtually bootleg-proof: You'd have to have leprosy to feel satisfied watching it alone on a 13-inch screen.) And unlike Emelianenko, St. Pierre or Silva, Mayweather can do something none of them has any cross-training in: talking.
Rossen also postulates that if the rumored James Toney vs Randy Couture bout does big business that that will increase Mayweather's interest in crossing over.
This month's Din Thomas vs Ricardo Mayorga bout could be an early indicator of fan interest in MMA vs boxing cross-overs. If that fight draws any significant interest or attention, expect big things from Toney vs Couture and look for even bigger things down the road.
If Mayweather did cross over to MMA while still at the height of his powers, it would be an epochal sporting event that could determine the future of both sports.
UPDATE: Bad Left Hook has the numbers for Mayweather-Mosley:
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! said on his Twitter that he's heard from "good sources" that Saturday night's fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley did around 1.1-1.2 million buys on pay-per-view, a figure that while impressive and realistically should be celebrated, would have to be seen all-around as a disappointment.
For one thing, it surely doesn't meet the four million homes that Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions was insanely talking about last week, but then anyone with a brain knew that was pure crazy talk.
But honestly, this would be an under-performance by what I personally expected, too. I figured around 1.5 million, maybe a bit more. This is lower than I thought it would be, but I'm not shocked. A bit surprised, yes, but not terribly so.
Facts are inconvenient things.