McGregor vs. Pacquiao is a terrible idea. Wouldn't it be nice if that alone were enough to stop it?

Lets start with something we all (hopefully) agree on: A boxing match between Conor McGregor and Manny Pacquiao is a terrible idea.
Its a bad idea not just because its bad, but also because its dumb and hackneyed, stripped of all novelty, like a ripoff of a parody.Remember earlier this year when Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps raced a computer-generated shark on the Discovery channel? Booking McGregor vs. Pacquiao now would be like trying to run that one back, except this time with a CGI dolphin.
But heres the problem with the current age of combat sports: As dumb and awful as a fight like that would be right now, how certain can you be that it wont actually happen?Personally, Im hovering at right around 80 percent sure. Im encouraged by recent developments, such as UFC President Dana White threatening a lawsuit over the reported negotiations between Team McGregor and Team Pacquiao, but I still cant get all the way to 100 percent positive, or even comfortably into the 90s.A lot of that is due to what you might call plausibility creep. The last several years have seen a shift in our perception of whats possible in combat sports. McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather? That didnt seem realistic until suddenly there it was. A pro wrestler jumping straight into the UFC with zero relevant experience to recommend him for the job? It was laughable until it was real.Its not just the UFC, either. Everything about Bellators stubbornly popular seniors tour feels like a bad joke that was repeated once too often, until it was finally conjured into being by the dulling force of repetition.
All this has consequences. Professional fighting is an imitative business. The best indicator of what will work is what already has worked in the recent past. This is true for both promoters and fighters.
Witness the shift in UFC fighter attitudes caused by the success of McGregor. Before he came along, the typical goal was to become a champion, then defend the belt again and again. Now its to win the belt and immediately go hunting for a huge payday in another division.
For promoters, its a constant battle for our attention. If its only the outlandish possibilities that get us talking, then those must be the ones worth considering.
And since we accept and even expect that promoters will have no guiding principles that extend beyond the race for the next one-off cash grab, theyre free to live down to our standards. The only excuse they need in order to sell us a certain fight is the possibility that well buy it.
Which brings us back to McGregor-Pacquiao, the combat sports version of the lazy action-movie sequel.
Theres nothing to recommend this fight. Weve already seen McGregor as a boxer, so that curiosity is satisfied. The longer he stays away from the UFC, the more it seems like hes holding the lightweight title hostage, and at a time when the division itself is as interesting as ever.
Even the bulb of Pacquiaos celebrity doesnt shine as brightly as it used to, making him seem like the copycat kid who shows up at school in whatever he saw the cool kids wearing yesterday.
Still, you cant say that nobody would watch this fight, which means you cant say that the powers that be wouldnt consider making it. Even with all the obstacles, ranging from personal to professional, weve reached a point where you cant just write it off as impossible.
In a bizarre way, the fact that it seems so farfetched now actually makes it slightly more likely, since at least it would qualify as a surprise.
Thats a strange place for the sport to be, and it doesnt seem like weve seen the end of it yet. It seems more like were still searching out the new boundaries, waiting to see how far those borders can be pushed until something whether its anger, revulsion, or just indifference finally pushes back.For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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