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Money says Conor McGregor won’t go MMA on Floyd Mayweather

Updated August 23, 2017 - 11:22 pm

It would be the ideal ending to months of exaggerative lunacy, the final bow to a circus act that has amused sports fans from small towns to big cities across America and many lands elsewhere.

I’m just not sure Conor McGregor can get frustrated enough Saturday night to pull a Daniel-san and assume the crane position.

I’m not sure anything would cause him to risk losing that much money.

I’m absolutely sure Floyd Mayweather won’t be sweeping any legs.

The event that many believe will ultimately have produced a far more entertaining buildup than what actually transpires in the ring is almost upon us, with Mayweather and McGregor on Wednesday attending what proved to be an incredibly subdued (boring?) final news conference.

The message is clear: These guys are ready to fight.

They have talked themselves to death, if that’s possible.

“We’re both coming close to it, so I’m cool with being a little laid back now,” McGregor said. “It’s good for a change. The media tour we went on was insane, so it was nice to switch it up.”

For all the insults and comedic barbs and brash prophecies McGregor has made as a crossover UFC star the past few months, one thing remains a mystery until the opening bell sounds at T-Mobile Arena.

What will be his boxing style against one of the sport’s all-time greats?

Will he actually follow those Marquess of Queensberry rules— which, given boxing’s code was drafted in London, must really infuriate Dublin’s favored son — or will he simply realize early that he can’t win and go all Karate Kid on Mayweather?

Here’s why the latter is almost as big an underdog as McGregor himself: Should he resort to MMA tactics and be disqualified, be it for elbowing or kicking or anything he might have learned watching those old training tapes of Mr. Miyagi and him on the beach, McGregor reportedly could lose 90 percent of a $75 million purse.

Man, that’s a ton of pints of his signature beer at the local pub.

“The two sides have a contract between themselves that if either fighter commits a foul that’s egregious, they will have to pay the other fighter a significant sum of money,” said Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission. “Also, we at the (NAC) would move forward with our own standard operational procedures and take appropriate action. It could be money, it could be a suspension, it could be both. I really hope something like that doesn’t happen.

“I’m hopeful everything will go well and professionally handled by both fighters.”

I’m hopeful the bell rings and McGregor is dressed in those SpongeBob SquarePants-looking shorts and immediately goes into his warmup routine of crouching low and swinging his arms at Mayweather like Michael Phelps preparing for the 200-meter free because, well, why wouldn’t everyone want that?

“Something is going to happen,” famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach said last month. “I think the fight will end maybe in a disqualification. I don’t think (McGregor’s) going to let a guy beat him up for 12 rounds … I see this happening clearly in my head.”

McGregor’s camp has been careful when releasing any clips of him training, and I’m not certain how much trust to put in 30 seconds of 12 rounds of sparring against former two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi, who has certainly worked himself into more publicity the past few weeks than he received in years.

Think about it. When is the last time we saw and heard from the Malignaggi kid this much?

Mayweather doesn’t seem concerned that McGregor will forget where he is Saturday and go a little nutty with some sort of takedown maneuver, insisting his opponent cares far more about the millions he stands to earn than losing them by being discouraged into foul play.

McGregor and his bank account seem to agree.

“(Mayweather) is a broken, beaten man,” he said. “I can hear it in his voice. He will not be able to handle the ferociousness that I come with. We’re going to fight by the Marquess of Queensberry rules and, as an MMA fighter, I can adapt to any situation. I will beat him under his rules. That’s how much more skilled I am than him. I’m going to (bleep) this boy up. The man is not on my level.

“I’m going to break whatever is in front of me.”

In a perfect world, McGregor would do so by assuming the crane position and trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. then would scream “Finish him!” to his son and then the circus would have its ideal ending.

Sadly, I believe we are actually in for a real boxing match.

Damn you, Marquess of Queensberry.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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