With Conor McGregor’s impressive victory at UFC 205 further establishing him as combat sports’ biggest star today, a lot of the talking points from mainstream outlets have returned to a possible bout against retired boxer Floyd Mayweather.
Famous boxing trainer and broadcaster Teddy Atlas spoke about the topic in a recent appearance at ESPN.
“Caveman,” Atlas said when asked about his thoughts on McGregor. “Listen, (he’s) a tough guy, very brilliant, genius promoter. There hasn’t been a promoter like him since Muhammad Ali. That’s a great compliment that I’m giving him.”
Related: McGregor drew twice as many buys in 1 year than the ENTIRE UFC in 2014
After complimenting Conor’s skills as a promoter, the 60-year-old coach went on to take a bit of a shot at UFC fighters in general.
“All these UFC guys, they’re genuinely tough, tough guys,” Atlas said. “And they have grappling skills that get you on the floor. For the average athlete, it’s all over, but as far as boxing — and it’s not a knock on them, it’s just a fact of my world — they’re cavemen. They would not beat C-level fighters.”
“(McGregor) would last as long as Mayweather would allow him to last for,” he continued. “It’s just primitive. Their skills striking — they call it striking, we call it boxing, standing on your feet, chucking punches — It’s primitive compared to the elite boxers. Even lower than the elite level boxers, Class C boxers that are professional fighters would have an easy time with these guys.
“It’s a different story if they can take you in their world. If they can take you on the floor, and grapple, and do those sort of things, then as I said, it’s a different story. But as far as strictly adhering to boxing rules? No contest, baby.”
This has been a really old talking point about boxing vs MMA. Under pure boxing rules, sure, most elite level MMA guys wouldn’t fare well against their counterparts, but it’s the same for top boxers against C-level MMA fighters. They’re in separate sports after all, and participants spend countless hours training very different techniques for very different rule sets.
I don’t blame an old boxing personality for having these views, but the only disputable statement here is basically him lumping together MMA “striking” — and not just punching — and calling it “primitive”. As I’m sure you all know, Mixed Martial Arts involves a plethora of strikes and techniques on the feet that aren’t allowed in boxing, and it has evolved more due to less restrictions.
In the end, there are various techniques, rules, and even gloves and fighting surfaces that are very different, so there’s not much point to comparing these.
Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt don’t feel the need to argue about swimming or running faster than triathletes and decathletes. On the flip side, those competitors don’t debate about being able to adapt better and do more than those who specialize in one aspect.
They’re completely different sports, so hopefully people just stop trying to prove which is ‘better’.