It stands to reason why Mayweather is such a popular pick amongst fighters, journalists, and other fight experts. He’s 49-0 with titles in multiple divisions and he’s rarely been rattled during his career, much less come that close to defeat on more than a handful of occasions.
Add to that, McGregor is stepping into the ring to face Mayweather in his first professional boxing match.
Still, McGregor has promised that he will put Mayweather away inside four rounds to earn a victory when they meet on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz might just be one of the best analytical minds in combat sports and he’s done plenty of study on both McGregor and Mayweather leading into the fight this weekend.
Cruz admits that McGregor is facing long odds in beating Mayweather, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In fact, Cruz laid out what he believes would be the best possible game plan for McGregor when breaking down the match-up with the Fight Society podcast.
“Realistically, the time that Mayweather’s the most open when you study some of his film, it’s only when he’s being offensive himself,” Cruz explained. “When he’s being defensive and knowing that you’re throwing, he sees things coming. So it’s tough, but if you can counter him, that’s probably the best tactic. Counter for counter, power for speed against Mayweather.
“So any time Mayweather touches you, just counter back real nasty with a two- or three-punch combination as hard as you can. All he has to do is touch you. Just put one little hand on you and just wing as hard as you can a three-punch combination if I’m McGregor.”
According to Cruz, another key to victory for McGregor could be focusing on Mayweather’s midsection rather than only targeting his head for the knockout.
Cruz says that McGregor can’t just go head hunting or Mayweather will find a way to pick him apart, but by going to the body he could lower his opponent’s defenses and that will open up the knockout shots as time ticks away in the rounds.
“He’s got to get his offense in line with his range. He’s got to make sure he’s ripping the body of Mayweather and not leading to the head too much. Because that’s where all Mayweather’s offense comes off of counter ability, it’s off of the head most times. He’s going to slip your offensive head shots and counter back to the body and to the head,” Cruz said.
“So McGregor has to go to the body early, look to set up the big head shots in the second and third and fourth round and keep that range. He’s got to keep that range, that southpaw range.”
Ultimately, Cruz feels like McGregor’s ability to counter off of Mayweather’s offense is his best path to victory.
There might be an opening to accomplish that strategy considering Mayweather has said time and again that he plans on coming out with more aggression than he’s used in any of his fights in recent memory.
Towards the latter part of his career, Mayweather was best known for his defensive masterpieces inside the ring, but rarely did he do much offensive damage to really put his opponents away. Mayweather has promised that won’t be the case against McGregor and Cruz believes that could play right into the Irishman’s hands.
“His best bet is countering. We’ve seen Mayweather pretty much only get caught when he’s coming in for his own offense. You’ve got to read that offense and counter him,” Cruz said. “McGregor does have that power and he does have that skill set. That’s something we’ve seen in his match-ups.
“We saw it with Eddie Alvarez and we saw it with Jose Aldo. He can time one good shot and finish from there. We’ve all seen it. That’s what we’re all counting on. We’re counting on the big upset against one of the greatest boxers of all time.”
As much as Cruz knows McGregor has a chance to win, he also understands that the smart money will be on Mayweather moving to 50-0 after the fight is over.
That being said, Cruz will absolutely be rooting for McGregor to succeed because in his mind this is a chance for mixed martial arts to shine even though the fight is only taking place under boxing rules.
“I know I’m hoping for an upset just because I’m part of the MMA community and this is huge,” Cruz said. “McGregor’s doing a lot for us in terms of notoriety, crossing over the fans and everything else.
“I give my best wishes with McGregor out there in a very tough matchup and I hope he can pull it off and get an upset for all of MMA.”