Many sports fans are excited about the prospect of Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor squaring off in a boxing match in Las Vegas on Aug. 26. But many fighters, including Bellator’s Matt Mitrione, are not.
“I think it’s going to be the second-most boring boxing match of all-time behind Pacquiao (and Mayweather),” Mitrione said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I feel that Floyd is the best that’s ever been, especially defensively, and the best boxers in the world that have their angles down better than anybody else in the world have angles down, especially for striking, have not been able to land any significant punches on Floyd. And Conor has a chance? No, not really. The footwork is so different, the spacing is so different, the techniques are so different. Floyd’s casual style makes people think that there’s a chance, but Floyd is an expert at what Floyd does. I’m not taking anything from Conor because Conor’s a very good MMA striker, but the distance in MMA is completely different, the spacing is completely different, the punches that you’re allowed to get off – and the speed the punches come into – (are completely different).”
McGregor will also have to adjust to the duration – and activity level – of a boxing match.
“The activity level in boxing is three minutes of very intense fighting where there’s no lulls like in MMA,” Mitrione said. “In MMA, there’s 30, 45 seconds, a minute, two minutes where nothing happens, whether they’re just standing in front of each other trying to figure out the chess match or they’re on the ground or there’s wall-stalling. In boxing, if you have a five-second lull, the referee is like, ‘You better get at it.’ So no matter what kind of cardio shape Conor is in, I’m thinking Conor gasses in three to four, maybe five, and Floyd plays with him and maybe even knocks him out depending on how tired Conor gets. If (the fight goes 12 rounds), it’s just because Floyd’s playing around and Floyd takes everybody to 12.”
All that said, Mitrione thinks the fight is good for combat sports.
“I’m from the old-school where any attention is good attention,” he said. “Do I think that people will be watching it to be overly critical? Yeah, absolutely. But I think it’s good because they’re still watching it. I think it’s a good thing for the sport overall, but I think it’s potentially very dangerous. . . . Boxing is a sweet science. Boxing is not necessarily offensive. It’s who can get hit the least and inflict the most amount of damage, so it’s counter-punching a lot of times. MMA is usually a very aggressive, coming-forward style with reckless abandon with multiple disciplines mixed into it. But if you don’t learn your spacing and distancing, it can throw all of your strikes off in a boxing match. I feel that this could be a showcase of whether Conor doesn’t know his distance like Floyd does, which I’m assuming is going to be the case, and either he fights too far outside and can’t get a hand on Floyd, or he tries to smother Floyd and Floyd just turns him around inside of a phone booth and schools him.”