With one Tweet UFC Lightweight and former Featherweight champion Conor McGregor announced he would be fighting undefeated and future boxing Hall-of-Famer Floyd Mayweather Junior.
The Tweet was peak McGregor with the Irishman posting an image of himself alongside Floyd Mayweather Senior.
This fight however was a public relations campaign run by both the McGregor and Mayweather camps to spark as much interest as possible.
The UFC fighter has been calling for a fight against Mayweather ever since he defeated Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight title back in 2015. “Money” has been a little more coy on the prospect of a super fight given he retired following his bout against Manny Pacquaio in mid-2015.
However, money talks and Mayweather is not one to miss an opportunity to make a lot of it. He is after all one of the highest paid celebrities in the world and is believed to have pocketed more than $700 million USD in career earnings.
McGregor has also spouted his passion for money, stating in a video posted to his social media:
“I have an unhealthy obsession with spending money. But I’ve got a healthy obsession with making it.”
But how did we get to what is essentially a money-making opportunity for the two athletes who compete in separate sports?
Easy. It was a PR campaign by both athletes to trigger the media and public to be clamouring for this fight.
McGregor, ever since he entered the UFC has been all about appearances. He’s always controversial and he’s always looking to grab a headline in much the same way Muhammad Ali did in his heyday.
The difference here is that McGregor can sit at home and send a few Tweets that will get people champing at the bit.
Mayweather too has utilised social media to stir up chatter about a possible fight.
So how do some simple Tweets result in a multi-million dollar fight?
The fight game is one of the sporting arenas most tied to supply and demand. Had McGregor and Mayweather simply come to a deal as soon as possible they wouldn’t have had anywhere near as much interest because the news cycle would’ve been shortened and people would’ve been satisfied.
In marketing, you don’t want your campaign to be short-lived. Sure, you might get a quick boost in sales but there’s often little long term improvement. A well-timed campaign ensure a boost in sales continues for a while
By drawing out the negotiations for nearly two years they did a number of things:
- They got fans talking. These are the people who buy the tickets and purchase pay-per-view packages. They buy merchandise and are the reason the fight is ultimately a huge money-making tool. Without the fans they don’t get the massive advertising dollars and the pay-per-view sales.
- Media interest. The media is tied directly to fight fans. Experts write their columns, they speculate and they generate interest. The media is essentially free publicity and fighters like Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather generate headlines. It becomes a win for the media who report on them and a win for the fighters. People read the articles and watch the stories and the athletes get exposure they and their teams don’t have to pay for.
- Suspense sells. There’s a reason large-scale events are promoted for an extended period of time. The longer it is advertised and talked about, the more interest it gathers. It’s similar to a wave. It builds in small increments over time until it reaches a crescendo before crashing, with the water continuing to move up the beach before it recedes back into the ocean.
Neither McGregor nor Mayweather are mugs when it comes to their public relations. They tested the waters early on and when it was clear that fans wanted to see them in the same ring then the negotiations got underway.
UFC President Dana White said there was supposedly an issue with McGregor engaging in a boxing match while contracted to the UFC but, let’s face it, the UFC were more than happy to see the Irishman take on this fight given they’d be getting a slice of the pie.
White himself said when the fight was announced that it was a fight the fans wanted:
Every fan and every media outlet one earth wanted this fight. And Conor and Floyd wanted this fight.
And as we’ve seen before. What Conor wants, Conor gets. The last time the UFC tried to muscle Conor McGregor he announced his retirement and, what was supposed to be a record-breaking UFC 200 didn’t reach the expected Pay-per-view mark despite Brock Lesnar’s return.
McGregor returned for UFC 202 and broke his own pay-per-view record he set at UFC 196.
Mayweather too played the game, stating his team was trying to establish the financial structure of the fight.
Clearly both fighters are satisfied with what each will be taking home on the night.
So after nearly two years of debating, speculating and arguing, perhaps the biggest night in boxing history will occur on August 26 as The Notorious Conor McGregor takes on Floyd Money Mayweather.