Last weekend, Conor McGregor made history by winning the UFC lightweight championship and becoming the first fighter to hold two UFC belts simultaneously. It was quite possibly the most impressive performance of his career and solidified his place as one of the greatest fighters alive.
In the aftermath of McGregor’s win the question then turned to what would he do next? McGregor has never been one to lord over a division, preferring to chase the next great challenge and there’s been some hints at possibly trying for a third title up at welterweight or making the jump to professional wrestling. And of course there are always the ever present rumors about a possible fight with boxing’s pay-per-view king Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The Mayweather-McGregor superfight has been talked about for a while now with the general consensus being that Conor would win an MMA fight and Floyd would win a boxing match and neither would be particularly close. However, now that consensus might be shifting. Mark Henry is the striking coach for Eddie Alvarez (McGregor’s foe at UFC 205), and after watching McGregor in action from the other side of the cage, Henry says the Irish superstar could knock out Mayweather.
“You cannot teach somebody how to swing like that,” Henry told RJ Clifford on The Luke Thomas Show. “It takes hips, it takes a certain shoulder, it takes a flick of the wrist, there are so many tiny mechanics. What it takes to make an eyeball work is what it takes to make the perfect swing. Like Babe Ruth. I just compare Conor – his swing – to Babe Ruth. I always watch tape of it but to be that close and watch it was a whole other thing.
“It comes along once in a lifetime or once every hundred years or what not. I think God has just blessed him with a swing that I’ll probably never see again. Before this fight, I would highly doubt him fighting Mayweather, but I think this dude can take out Mayweather. I’m not even joking.”
Henry is an esteemed coach in his own right so his praise of McGregor is impressive. And while he declined to put odds down for how likely it would be for McGregor to beat Mayweather in a boxing match, he was adamant that McGregor’s skills give him a real chance of scoring the knockout.
“I don’t know if it went [long] but I could easily see him knocking anybody out. Like I said, it’s like a Babe Ruth swing. There’s so many little things that you need to make it work, like even if you lean a little forward too much or you don’t turn your hips at the exact time. Also too, his range. He knows his range so well. A punch could be an inch – less than that – seven centimeters from his face and he won’t pull his head back at times because he knows it’s not gonna hit. So a lot of times he’ll slide back his head and counter, but if you don’t slide back your head, the punch comes even faster and there’s time he won’t even slip back his head because he knows it’s not gonna hit him.
“And not even that, to go farther. Like that last four-punch combination he threw on Eddie, to know where his head is gonna be on all four moves. He just knows way ahead of time where you’re gonna be. So many different things go into what he’s doing. His eyes are so focused to just know where somebody’s head is gonna be or tricking somebody where their head is gonna be, setting it up with your feet. What he does is just incredible.”
Henry goes on to acknowledge that Mayweather has impeccable boxing defense but watching one of his prized pupils get dismantled seems to have had a profound effect on his assessment of McGregor and his talents.
“Mayweather’s so good with his defense but Conor’s so dang precise. Eddie is such an incredible athlete and Eddie is such a veteran and Eddie’s resume – he’s fought and beat all world champions. Eddie’s incredible. But it’s just so many different things. How precise he is, the power that he has…Just his pure swing. When you see it up close it’s even more impressive. ”
A Mayweather-McGregor fight has been rumored since May when Mayweather began talking about coming out of retirement and McGregor was one of the potential opponents he mentioned. While no substantive talks have been held, Chael Sonnen did report on ESPN after UFC 205 that word around the campfire is McGregor will be pursuing a boxing match with Mayweather now that he’s won his second UFC title. McGregor himself has been mum on what he intends to do but if he does pursue a boxing match with Mayweather, he’s converted at least one doubter already.