MMA: Floyd Mayweather could upset Conor McGregor in octagon, says UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber

Urijah Faber said he "would seriously, seriously doubt there would ever be an MMA fight between Conor and Floyd".
Urijah Faber said he "would seriously, seriously doubt there would ever be an MMA fight between Conor and Floyd".PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/ZUFFA LLC

SINGAPORE - The bookmakers foresee a swift defeat for boxing icon Floyd Mayweather Jr if he ever decides to step into the octagon with Ultimate Fighting Championship star Conor McGregor in a mixed martial arts fight.

But UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber believes the retired 40-year-old boxer stands a "puncher's chance" of beating the brash Irish star at his own game.

Faber, 38, told The Straits Times on Saturday (Feb 10) in a phone interview from Perth where he is attending Sunday's UFC 221 event: "Obviously the gameplan for Conor, in an MMA fight, is to take Floyd down (to the ground).

"But every MMA fight starts on the feet, standing. And Floyd has got some of the best hands in the world."

Last August, Mayweather and McGregor faced off in a professional boxing bout with the American winning via TKO in the 10th round and burnishing his record to 50-0.

On social media in recent months, the two have teased a rematch, this time with MMA rules, and UFC president Dana White told US media on Friday there was a possibility the fight might take place.

But Faber, who retired in Dec 2016 with a record of 34 wins from 44 fights, is not holding his breath.

He said: "I would seriously, seriously doubt there would ever be an MMA fight between Conor and Floyd.

"Conor put his pride aside, said he wanted to test his skill set as a professional boxer, and of course he had a long history of being a stand-up fighter.

"If Floyd wants to put his pride aside the same way, great. But I doubt it will happen, because he's kind of old to be jumping into a brand new sport.

"But the truth is, he stands a puncher's chance.

The clash between Mayweather and McGregor generated 4.3 million pay-per-view buys, making it the second highest buy-rate in pay-per-view history, behind Mayweather's decision win over Manny Pacquiao in May 2015, which drew 4.6 million buys.

There would be similar interest in a rematch, Faber said.

In Australia, Faber will be in the corner of Japanese fighter Teruto Ishihara, who trains at his Team Alpha Male gym in Sacramento. Ishihara, 26, faces Mexican Jose Quinonez in the undercard of UFC 221, which is headlined by an interim middleweight title match between Cuban Yoel Romero and American Luke Rockhold.

Australian heavyweight knockout artist Mark Hunt faces American upstart Curtis Blaydes in the co-main event.

Faber said the UFC, which is attempting to make inroads in Asia, can become the No.1 MMA promotion in the region, despite established brands like Singapore's One Championship and Japan-based Rizin Fighting Federation already having a foothold in the market.

"It's going to be big for us to go out there and become the powerhouse in Asia. I know there are a lot of skilled fighters in China, particularly, and we're looking forward to finding stars and future champions.

"Mentality is the most important thing (for budding Asian fighters), they need the right fighting spirit (and) athleticism... Blend in the technique from the right MMA coaching, and that's a recipe for success."