Conor McGregor landed more punches (111 of 430, 26%) in 10 rounds and at a better percentage than Manny Pacquiao (81 of 429, 19%) did in 12 rounds.
This is a monumental achievement for a man boxing analysts said had a 0% chance of winning the fight.
Not only were the fight metrics impressive, it was a highly entertaining fight. Part of that is due to Floyd fighting less defensively, but it was also due the intense pressure Conor put forth in the early rounds, landing several highlight reel uppercuts.
The MMA community is proud of Conor. I’m proud of Conor. I didn’t think he would win (In my head, I gave him a 5% chance of a knockout.), most MMA fans didn’t think he would win, but even winning 3 rounds against the best boxer on the planet is an extremely satisfying outcome for the underdog.
Not only did he dish out the jabs (27 of 98, 28%) he was able to slip or defend Floyd’s power punches for a majority of the time, making him comparable to other top boxing contenders.
Power punches landed on opponents by Floyd:
De la hoya 57% Pacquiao 48% Canelo 53% Maidana I 65% Berto 68%
When I looked at past boxers who came close to beating Mayweather I thought of Maidana. Mayweather vs Maidana I was a fight not so dissimilar from the McGregor fight. Maidana fought at awkward angles, forced the action, and dirty boxed his way into a draw on one of the judge’s scorecards. Of course, Maidana did a lot better than anyone, landing 226 punches on Mayweather.
Conor looked like a more awkward but less skilled Maidana. But why would he be more skilled? He gave up boxing at age 15 to train MMA and only started training for the Mayweather fight about 9 months ago.
He has years of MMA skills that he had to suppress for the Mayweather fight and that could not have been easy. You could see through body posturing he had an urge to dump Mayweather on his head every time they clinched.
Despite his success, Conor is not the most skilled martial artist in the UFC. He doesn’t have the near-perfect take down defense of Jon Jones. He hasn’t submitted anyone since his Cage Warrior days. He got choked out in round 2 by another skilled MMA boxer, Nate Diaz, in their second fight.
Despite his flaws, I would say he has the best MMA boxing in the game. His distance management and accuracy for MMA striking is statistically near the top of the game.
And the level of opponents he has been able to knock out with his power left puts him at the #3 pound for pound UFC fighter of all time.
He beat Nate Diaz in their rematch by bringing in kicks to set up punches and manage his distance. He managed his cardio better. This brings up the other talking point about McGregor – his adaptability.
He only had 6 months between his devastating loss to Diaz and his subsequent victory. He changed up his style significantly in between fights and decisively won the fight with the media members and the judges. Conor has a high fight IQ and demonstrates that he learns and adapts to able to make the right changes between every fight.
People said Conor wouldn’t be able to fight like a boxer. He would have too many bad habits. His stance would be all wrong and leave him open to too much punishment.
In the end, McGregor did take too much punishment and gassed out. At this point, I would have to say it’s just genetics rather than training flaws. Some people just don’t have great cardio or they have the wrong muscle fiber types to fight long fights. Still, fighting 9 and a half 3-minute rounds, with comparable fighting metrics to the greats, with the undisputed best boxer of all time is no joke.
Conor may have been able to last all 12 rounds had he pulled his own Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and spent all 9 months of training working on defense and turtling instead of counter punching. But that’s not his game. Surviving is not his game. Fighting and promoting is his game, and the fans won because of it.