McGregor Made Bank So Where Does MMA Go From Here

This weekend Floyd Mayweather made history by extending his career unbeaten streak to 50 bouts while walking away with a guaranteed $100 million in the process. The global impact was surreal due to the racially nuanced dynamics employed by McGregor and his rabid fan base, helping to make Mayweather one of the three athletes to claim billion dollar status in earnings over the course of his career, the other two athletes being Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

The other clear winner was Conor McGregor, who stepped out in front of the UFC marketing machine and robustly branded himself and his new company, McGregor Sports & Entertainment. The fight earned him a career high guaranteed pay day of $30 million and created a new lane for him as a serious contender in boxing. In fact, during all the pre-fight hype a bout against former boxer champion Paulie Malignaggi might even be on the horizon.

Mayweather vs. McGregor Post-Fight Press Conference

Courtesy: SHOWTIME WARNING: Contains graphic language. Discretion is advised. Floyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor by TKO in 10 rounds to finish his career 50-0 in the much-anticipated mega-fight that surpassed the expectations of most fight analysts. For more:

All this change begs an answer to the question: has McGregor’s new moves affected the current way that the sport of MMA does business? McGregor is the only simultaneous two weight class champion in the UFC’s history. He has fought in three different weight classes since entering the biggest MMA promotion in the world and been a sell-out draw each and every time he put on the gloves.

UFC President Dana White has called McGregor a unicorn that is capable of anything so to that end, will McGregor be the fighter that finally raises the pay scale for athletes in MMA? Since inception, MMA has been more of a passion project for its athletes. The majority of mixed martial artists have a full-time career in addition to a full-time training schedule in preparation for potential fighting opportunities. 

MMA athletic pay scales have always been low, especially for female fighters, with purse amounts normally encompassing a “show up” fee and a “win bonus.” No flat guarantees regardless of the outcome, unless you are on the higher end of the fighting food chain where even pay-per-view points are in play based on an individual fighter’s marketability. But with “show up” money ranging from $5,000 and up for a three round affair where more skills are involved and inevitably more coaches and training time, the televised fights have been nothing more than free advertising for the fighter’s home gym, if they are lucky enough to own one.

Now that McGregor has opened the door for bigger financial gains for MMA fighters, it will be interesting to see how the negotiations will happen upon his return to MMA. He is still the UFC lightweight champion and believes he still is the UFC featherweight champion, despite Max Holloway defeating Jose Aldo to unify the title at UFC 212. Now that McGregor has solidified himself as an international pay-per-view star in two sports it will be curious to see how his conversations with Dana White and the UFC change. 

McGregor has put the strong arm on Dana White before and famously held out of promotional obligations for his fight against Nate Diaz to focus on training in Iceland. Now that he has fought the biggest boxing star on the planet and lasted 10 rounds, he is in a position never experienced or witnessed before by an MMA fighter.

What’s more is that other fighters who crave the level of income and fame McGregor now has will be beating down the door for agreements to fight in other sports like boxing and even kickboxing while remaining employed by the UFC. Dana White has conspicuously been wearing a Zuffa Boxing shirt recently, which may signal his forward thinking on the subject. Zuffa was the former parent company of the UFC helmed by casino magnate brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

The trio might get back together in a new boxing venture in the future but what should worry White and his new partners in WME-IMG is whether the system that keeps them rich and athletes poor will finally implode.       

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. RhettĀ hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.