Floyd Mayweather: Racial bias to blame for Conor McGregor's popularity

Ryan McKinnell
·Ryan McKinnell

The UFC’s Conor McGregor is one of the most enigmatic stars in all of combat sports.

Coming off a stunning 13-second dethroning of former featherweight champ Jose Aldo in early December at UFC 194, the 27-year-old Irishman skyrocketed in popularity.

Floyd Mayweather (AFP)
Floyd Mayweather (AFP)

With his last two fights nearing 1 million pay-per-view buys each, and a reputation for being the best trash talker in the sport, McGregor is the most polarizing fighter to come along in years.

Most would attribute McGregor’s success to his undefeated UFC record (7-0 with six KO/TKOs), flashy in-ring exploits and snappy quips on the microphone.

Don’t try using that reasoning with recently retired boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, though. According to Mayweather, McGregor is just a product of racism.

“I don't really know the McGregor guy, never seen him fight,” Mayweather told FightHype.com recently. “I heard his name actually from one of the runners that works for our company – a little kid named Ken Hopkins. He's a runner and takes care of a lot of the daily business. Whatever we need, he takes care of. He's a cool little kid, I like him, and he does MMA. He told me about the guy McGregor.

“They say he talks a lot of trash and people praise him for it, but when I did it, they say I'm cocky and arrogant. So biased! Like I said before, all I'm saying is this: I ain't racist at all, but I'm telling you racism still exists.”

Mayweather also used former boxing champ Laila Ali as an example in comparing her to another massive UFC star, Ronda Rousey.

"After Ronda Rousey fought I think nine, 10, 11 fights, it didn't even take that long, she got all types of endorsements, movies, and everything," Mayweather continued. "Laila Ali did the same thing in better fashion. Ronda Rousey, she's a good-looking woman when she put it on. Laila Ali is a drop-dead gorgeous woman; I mean a naturally beautiful woman and can kick ass, but you never heard [the media] saying when she had I think somewhere around 10, 11, 12 fights that she was the baddest woman to ever fight on the planet."

There’s no denying double standards still exist in sports.

Conor McGregor (AP)
Conor McGregor (AP)

It’s evident when you see Cam Newton getting called a ‘thug’ when celebrating a TD with his signature “Dab” dance, but when Johnny Manziel spends every weekend partying like it’s 1980s Miami, he’s just a kid being a kid.

That being said, what Mayweather’s spouting here sure sounds like sour grapes. He has to know full well why he was vilified in his boxing career – his history of domestic violence, and to a lesser extent, his less-than-thrilling style in the ring certainly didn't help his popularity. As for Ali-Rousey comparisons, well, both were dominant in their own right. But women's boxing hasn't ever really resonated with the average mainstream sports fan. The UFC created a woman's division because of Rousey and she's taken the company to new heights with her ability to reach those fans with her accessibility and promotional efforts.

Perhaps all the attention McGregor and Rousey have been garnering as of late was finally enough to put Mayweather on the offensive.

Sorry, 'Money' fans…it was too easy.