Although, in both hype and finance, Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor will be the biggest fight in the history of combat sports, Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) Director Bob Bennett claims his decision to approve the fight was a non-business move.
Bennett joined The MMA Hour earlier today (Mon. August 21, 2017) to discuss this weekend’s (Sat. August 26, 2017) mega-fight between Mayweather and McGregor and broke down his ‘standard operating procedure’ for approving fights (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I take a look at each fighter’s record,” Bennett said. “I have a standard operating procedure that I use and when it comes to finances, I don’t even want to hear about it. The money does not enter into my position as an executive director.”
“Conor is the younger, stronger, the longer, more powerful puncher. As you know in the UFC, he fought featherweight, lightweight, welterweight. His record is 21-3 in MMA —17 of those wins have come by way of KO or TKO. So he’s a premier striker, knockout artist. He’s a young, aggressive warrior who believes he’s gonna win. And that attitude unto itself makes it very dangerous.”
In the middle of the process to approve the fight, Bennett says he spoke with McGregor’s manager, Audie Attar, several times to be sure that the Irishman understood the unified rules of boxing and the Nevada commission’s specific rules. He also said he consulted with boxing trainer Virgil Hunter, who coaches the likes of Andre Ward.
Bennett said that Hunter brought in McGregor foe, Nate Diaz, to work with fighters such as Ward, Brandon Gonzalez and Andrzej Fonfara multiple times before. During their match-up at UFC 202, McGregor knocked down the Stockton Native several times with his punching:
“Mr. Hunter thought that if Nate really wanted to be a professional fighter, he would have been a world-class boxer,” Bennett said. “But instead he chose to go the MMA route.”
“But seeing is believing. Because it is an approvable fight. That didn’t really have any bearing on whether we would approve it or not. I’m known as an executive director to be very conservative in approving fights, whether they MMA or boxing. I have a format that I go by that I had to deviate a little from. Because this is unprecedented. It is historic. Both these guys are phenomenal athletes. I took a real close look at Conor, because everybody knows Floyd. He’s 49-0, arguably the best defense in the history of boxing. Future Hall of Famer. Conor is a young warrior coming up.”
If the task of whether or not to approve a bout between McGregor and Mayweather fell into the hands of any other commission, Bennett said he is confident anyone else would’ve made the same decision:
“I do think if this fight came to any other commission, they would more than likely — if they did their homework — they would approve it,” Bennett said. “Based on facts, not on dollars. When it comes to the finances, I cut the people off right away, respectfully, because it does not enter into the equation on whether or not I approve a fight.”