Sports

McGregor v Mayweather is just what MMA needs: UFC fighters

McGregor v Mayweather is just what MMA needs: UFC fighters
Holly Holm (left) and Bethe Correia will be squaring off in the main event on Saturday night. Photo: UFC/Getty Images
Even with Mayweather heavily tipped to win, MMA fighters say no one should count McGregor out
Published: 10:45 PM, June 15, 2017

LOW LIN FHOONG

linfhoong@mediacorp.com.sg

SINGAPORE – It is set to be the biggest and richest crossover boxing clash, and already the community was abuzz as news emerged early Thursday morning (June 15) that undefeated multi-millionaire boxer Floyd Mayweather will face mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Conor McGregor over 12 rounds in Las Vegas on August 26.

MMA fighters here in town for the UFC Fight Night Singapore at the Indoor Stadium on Saturday were equally excited to hear the news, calling it a huge boon for the sport as it looks to build on its fan base here and around the world.

Ameircan fighter Colby Covington, who will face South Korea’s Kim Dong Hyun said during the UFC Fight Night media day on Thursday: “I think it’s great, this is what MMA needs.

“This is going to draw more fans in, the casual fan who maybe likes boxing but doesn’t know much about MMA.

“It’s huge, and creates an outlet that shows them and their fighters that if they get a big enough name and brand that they can cross over and fight these guys for bigger money in boxing.”

While the odds are heavily stacked against McGregor, American MMA star Holly Holm – who is fighting on the main card against Brazil’s Bethe Correia – believes the feisty Irishman will bring the fight to the 49-0 undefeated boxing champion.

Holm certainly speaks from experience, as the former boxing world champion handed Ronda Rousey her first defeat with a brutal knockout in 2015.

“I’m one of those who really believes in being able to cross over,” said the 35-year-old.

“Boxing is a different world, just everything about it is very different, but Conor’s one of those who really believes in himself and he’s going to put up a good fight.

“I only had two fights in the UFC when they put me up against Ronda, the question was how long do you think you can last, I’m not going to last, I’m going to go for victory.

“Floyd Mayweather he’s undefeated. But anything can happen, that’s what I like to watch from the outside, it’s the unknown, it’s the unpredictable. Conor McGregor believes he can do it and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Coming off a run of three successive losses after her upset victory over Rousey, Holm will certainly be under immense pressure to turn her MMA fortunes around, and put herself back into title fight contention.

The American fighter insisted that she is not about to let all the talk about her losses get to her. “You know what, it’s a fact, I know that it’s there,” she said.

“I’m not thinking about that because I have a fight. If I kept my mind on the three losses, I would be down on myself, doubting myself and I can’t afford that.

“For me, the only cure for my losses is a victory. Just keep plugging in, keep fighting and training hard and doing what I love to do. I don’t want to sit around and sulk.

“I think everybody else thinks I should have pressure on me coming out from three losses. I put pressure on myself no matter what the fight is. I don’t want to lose a fight no matter what.”

Correia, however, who has notched 10 wins, two losses and a draw to her opponent’s 10-3-0 career record, is confident she will be able to take down the American fighter on Saturday.

“She’s a very tough fighter, but there will be a lot of weaknesses to exploit,” said the 33-year-old.

“I will be able to nullify her reach and I’m a good counter striker.

“I think she hasn’t adapted to the grappling part of the game yet. I’m a fighter who doesn’t stop and I want to keep over achieving, and I want a title shot again.”

UFC Fight Night Singapore

When: Saturday, June 17 (4.45pm first bout, 8pm main card)

Where: Singapore Indoor Stadium

Who (main card): Holly Holm vs Bethe Correia, Andrei Arlovski vs Marcin Tybura, Kim Dong Hyun vs Colby Covington, Tarec Saffiedine vs Rafael Dos Anjos