While a fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Connor McGregor has yet to materialize, the war of words is ratcheting up. Mayweather called the UFC star a “punk” and a “bitch” in his most recent interview suggesting McGregor doesn’t actually want to make it happen, citing the Irishman’s high asking price as a means of bidding himself out of the fight.
“At one particular time I had to be the B-side. When they brought the money to the table I took it, kicked ass and became the A-side.” Maywaether continued, “Come kick my ass and become the A-side.” This is likely a fair estimation of the situation. McGregor is going to have to settle for significantly less money than Mayweather if he really wants to see this bout come to fruition.
The boxing star’s business savvy and in-ring smarts are not a matter of question at this point, but contained within the rest of his interview are some disturbing remarks that had nothing to do with deal making or fight IQ.
Mayweather stated, “Real men fight standing up. I’m from [the] old school. I’m not going to kick my shoes off, I’m not going to be between no man’s legs wrestling on the ground. I’m going to stand up and kick ass.”
While that very well might come true, Mayweather’s assertion about how “real men” fight, along with his disavowal of being between another man’s legs on the ground contain a good deal of implicit homophobia and the acknowledgement that outside of his preferred skill-set, Floyd does not have a prayer of beating McGregor.
By stating that real men fight standing up, Floyd is attempting to emasculate anyone who chooses to practice ground fighting. Proclaiming that he won’t be on the ground between another man’s legs is, whether he’ll admit it or not, to say that doing so is to be homosexual. In essence, he has called McGregor weak and gay, two things which, in and of themselves are not qualities that should be used against a person, but which Mayweather clearly believes to be the source of great insult.
The root of this attitude is a deeper issue than I am qualified to address, but there needs to be a conversation started about how much longer we can justify not calling out those who espouse this kind of fear and ignorance. From promoter Bob Arum, to Floyd, to well regarded statesmen of the sport like Bernard Hopkins, the sentiment that MMA and grappling are gay is wide spread.
For Floyd, or any other boxer to single out grappling as gay because it takes place on the floor and often with one combatant’s legs wrapped around the other’s torso is to ignore the fact that boxers spend time in the clinch, essentially sweaty, shirtless hugging. Both are defensive tactics, but to many a pugilists mind, wrapping your limbs around another man in order to avoid damage is not gay, provided the action remain vertical.
As far as being a “real man” is concerned, let us not ignore Mayweather’s well documented history of domestic abuse. This is a person who has done jail time for beating women. Where he suggests that “real men” fight standing up, many others might argue that real men do not hit women, a notion clearly lost on the guy we used to call Pretty Boy.
Though the fight game lacks for certainties, it’s almost scientific fact that in a mixed rules fight a pure striker is fucked. Everyone who is paying attention knowns this, including Floyd; enter the “real man” talk as a means to bolster his ego. “Yeah, he’d beat me if we rolled around like a couple gay dudes, but I fight like a real man.” It’s easier to dismiss something than it is to admit you can be beat by it. It’s also why you’ll never see Floyd in the UFC and what makes Connor’s attempt to step inside the ring so compelling. He would go in a huge underdog, but when the likely outcome of him losing a decision did occur, McGregor would hold a trump card: “I stepped into your world and took it to you. Are you man enough to step into mine?”
The call would be answered by crickets, accompanied by he sound of Floyd off in the distance, hammering a huge check like it was his wife’s head.
A real man indeed.