It's been over a month since Floyd Mayweather announced that he would be coming out of retirement to face Conor McGregor, and what feels like years since the two first started throwing each other's names around in the press, and yet, next to no headway has seemingly been made to actually put the fight together.
The last time we checked in, UFC President Dana White said that negotiations between the camps were "not close" to reaching an agreement, but that things would likely pick up once McGregor welcomes his child into the world. Showtime Sports Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza, however, has a different opinion on how things might play out.
Appearing on the Boxing With Chris Mannix podcast, Espinoza laid out the harsh realities of the McGregor-Mayweather bout, saying that if it doesn't happen by the end of the year, it likely won't happen at all.
"Floyd’s on 18 months, two solid years come September since he’s fought. He’s still in great shape, but at a certain point, he’s not gonna do it after a while...it really is something that needs to happen this year or it probably won’t happen"
As for why negotiations remain at a standstill?
Fear on the UFC's part, according to Espinoza.
“I think part of the fear on the UFC’s side is that they’ll never see Conor again. If he makes 50, 60, 70 and then you never see him in the ring and he retires in Ireland and so much for their megastar.”
It's a valid concern, and one that McGregor's teammate, Gunnar Nelson, has also voiced in the recent past. McGregor himself has stated his intentions to "get out" of the UFC while he's young (mainly out of the fear of suffering long term brain damage), and should he score the $100 million payday he's set to earn for the Mayweather fight, what else would he have compelling him to come back? A trilogy fight with Nate Diaz, which, while undoubtedly lucrative, wouldn't come close to touching Mayweather money? A lightweight title defense against Tony Ferguson to "silence his haters"?
Conor McGregor has accomplished everything he set out to do in the UFC. He's set record gate and PPV numbers. He's become the first ever two-division champion. He done changed the game. Should he become the first MMA star to ever book a marquee fight with the greatest boxer of all time (or any boxer, really), what other worlds would there be left for him to conquer?