UFC: Why Conor McGregor’s charity fight is a big deal for the league

Cay North
Conor McGregor, UFC
January 18, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Conor McGregor holds an Irish flag as he celebrates his first round TKO victory against Donald Cerrone following UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s debatable whether or not the UFC will allow Conor McGregor to fight Dustin Poirier in a charity match. Both of the fighters are under contract with the UFC, and the charity bout would take place under outside promotion.

The UFC might take some heat from fans for turning it down – after all, the fight would raise a lot of money for charity. But at the end of the day, that may be the likeliest scenario because the UFC has something to lose if they let it happen.

The reason why the fight matters

This fight is intriguing, but not just because of the two talents that would be involved. Sure, the fight itself would be exciting, but from a business perspective there’s more implications. A fight arranged by McGregor and his managers is a far cry from the usual MMA fight, which is organized by a promotion. Even if it is just a charity one-off, it’s a rare boxing style bout in a sport dominated by centralized organizations.

The UFC has competition from other promotions. Bellator, ONE Championship, and others offer fans alternative options to watch. We’ve even seen big name fighters move from the UFC to these organizations for whatever reason. But at the end of the day, they’re still organizations. They act as centralized leagues, with one body deciding who fights who and setting the rankings.

Boxing, on the other hand? It’s a lot more like the wild west. Certain organizations can try to push through certain matchups, but at the end of the day the individual fighters and their managers have a lot more power. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. We’ve still never seen some highly talked about boxing fights, like Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder. In an organization like the UFC, that fight likely would have been pushed through by the league itself.

But on the other hand, boxing is known for more of the profits ending up in the pockets of the fighters. A big boxing fight does more for its stars than a big UFC fight, and it’s been said that Conor McGregor’s fight with Mayweather was motivated by the larger cut of profits from boxing.

Pay disputes with the UFC have been in the news fairly often in 2020. McGregor organizing his own MMA fight, boxing promoter style, is interesting because it opens the door for others to do the same thing. For now, the idea is for a charity fight.

But in the future, the idea of fighters agreeing to MMA fights outside of an organization like the UFC could see other uses. And because of that, expect the league to approach this fight with caution – after all, the UFC would have the most to lose if these boxing style matchups became more regular.