I’m well familiarized with both Oscar De La Hoya‘s and Conor McGregor‘s body of work . I’ve been a die hard Boxing fan since September of 1981, and I’ve been following(at a distance) the UFC(and MMA in general) since 1995.
Boxing is an Olympic Sport and has been a well organized and very competitive sport for 125 years, while the UFC in my honest opinion, is mostly 2nd and 3rd rate athletes promoted by 1st class marketing that appeals to a major demographic that current of former WWE fans.
I have no doubt whatsoever and I’ve always said it, that Ronda Rousey, Sage Northcutt and especially Paige VanZant, etc, were “creatures of television”, a popular expression used back in the 1970s to refer to hyped up athletes that the associations and the media were building up through hyperbolic publicity and careful matchmaking.
In Sports popularity goes in cycles, but for the most part they require a “flag”, a major star to be a crossover mainstream figure to attract attention.
In Boxing, from 1964 to 1978 it was Muhammad Ali(née Cassius Marcellus Clay). From 1979 to 1982 it was “Sugar” Ray Leonard. And then from 1986 to 1991 it was “Iron” Mike Tyson. From 1996 to 2007 it was “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya. And from 2007 to 2015 it was Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
All of the 5 names mentioned above weren’t just stars, meaning athletes who generated TV ratings, PPV buyrates and Madison Avenue sponsors, they were also among the most talented pugilists ever. Ali, Leonard and De La Hoya all won Olympic Gold Medals.
Being popular is not necessarily a synonym for quality. The UFC athletes do not receive paychecks anywhere remotely close to those that the major Boxing stars receive, but the UFC brand itself is very popular, in some ways, it’s more popular than Boxing, although perhaps not as profitable.
MMA(Mixed Martial Arts) as the name indicates usually envolves martial artists that use an hybrid of several martial arts, such as Boxing, Judo, Kick-Boxing, Ju-Jitsu, Greco-Roman Wrestling, etc.
The problem is, a very good Judo champion will never be as proficient in Boxing, a good Kick-Boxer will never be as good at Judo, etc. Each one is a master of a specific martial art and then “dabbles” little bit in the other in order to become a more well-rounded MMA fighter.
What makes for a compelling fight in advance? Meaning, how to you create/promote anticipation for a fight(regardless of the quality of the fighters)? It’s simple, you have to create an element of doubt, or in other words, a fight in which for whatever reason, the paying public cannot say for certain beforehand who is going to win.
Conor McGregor is 29 years old, while Oscar De La Hoya will soon be 45. It’s a 16 year age gap that should create enough…. “curiosity” over who will come out on top.
Conor McGregor realistically is not a world class athlete, and he is basically a novice at Boxing. Boxing aside, I think athletically McGregor is probably just starting to exit his prime years as an athlete.
As for Oscar, he was without question a world class athlete for many years, but his athletic heyday was way back in 1999, almost 19 years ago.
Oscar has been retired since late 2008, and if he were to attempt a comeback in Boxing(against non-novices like McGregor) I don’t think he could beat anybody in the Top 10 of whichever division he chose to fight, be it at 147, 154 or 160 pounds.
Oscar claims that he is in the best shape of his life, the strongest, the fastest, etc. But anybody that has ever practiced sports or knows anything about human physiology, know that his “boast” can’t possibly be true and only naive fans will buy into it.
Yet the question is this, if a 45 year old Oscar gets in the best possible shape that he can get at this age, how will he fare in the context of a Boxing ring against a good martial artist who is 16 years younger?
If Oscar’s cardiovascular conditioning is on point, I will not be shocked at all if he KOs Conor McGregor inside of 4 rounds and pockets 100 million Dollars in the process of what in theory would be a fairly easy fight for the “old man”. I’d be surprised if McGregor’s punches can even hurt Oscar.
In 2017 to the general public McGregor is a bigger star than De La Hoya, but the Irishman knows that there is nobody in the UFC that he can fight and get paid even a third of 100M$. Conor will be tempted to take an offer from Oscar, but when he (most likely) gets beaten, fewer and fewer fans will continue to take McGregor or the UFC seriously.