Last weekend happened a long-awaited fight of the century between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather. Many people watched that fight with favouring their champion. Although some people might argue, it was not clear before the fight who would have the upper hand.
While I don’t watch boxing and neither MMA, I had to watch this fight. There was simply too much buzz about it and at the same time I like to leverage opportunities. In this case, I was interested in the mental aspect of the match between the two top level athletes. Without doubt, both of them needed to develop exceptional mental toughness as well as skills. But there is always only one champion…
What was at stake?
What made this match interesting from the mental game perspective was the possible pressure on the athletes from what was in stake. It was not only about money, while I have a feeling that for Mayweather it was more of a business opportunity, while for McGregor it was about his thirst for being the best and proving himself in his dream fight, outside of his sport.
This fight was not an issue of money. Both of the athletes were for a big treat as there was insane hype around it.
Mayweather was guaranteed $100 million for the fight, while McGregor was guaranteed $30 million. That is not bad for one fight, is it? And that was only the guarantee. Both fighters got much more when other sources were counted.
With the estimated revenues and splits in mind, $230 million for Mayweather and $70million for McGregor is not out of the question. Pay-per-view sales could change that figure. ~
What I see as the biggest stressors are the following reasons:
Mayweather was retired and was on 49-0 streak
Now we are coming to the main pressure point that could definitely screw up a sub-level person. Floyd retired undefeated with 49 – 0 streak! Can you imagine that? Can you imagine the possibility of losing?
“I truly believe I’m taking the bigger risk. But it’s a big reward for both. I have the 49-0 record. When a fighter has lost before, if he loses again, they say, ‘Oh, it’s nothing. He’s lost before.’ But when a fighter has been dominating for 20-some years — never lost — everything is on the line; my legacy, my boxing record, everything is on the line.”
I think that Floyd is calm and grounded and he did not let any pressure to build up. He came and meant business, zeroed in on the winning and went for it. The victory was his even before the fight and that, despite his hard work and training, was because of his mindset. At least I like to believe so and I will elaborate on that aspect later.
As Mayweather says, “Pressure either makes you or breaks you.” and as we witnessed, he did not let it break him.
McGregor’s name and boasting rights were at stake
McGregor has projected himself confidently throughout the hype for this fight, as he normally does. This is part of the reason he was chosen for this bout, and what has made him such a magnetic star in MMA. His boastful words will be fed to him like a coffee mug filled with Dr. Tichenor’s mouthwash if he loses. ~ Brian Mazique
Conor was pushing for that fight, asking for it for a long time. You might remember all the hype, messages on Twitter that lead to the final fight. Putting so much energy into the fight, to even make it happen, to prove to the world he is the best is taxing. But that is what McGregor thrives on.
You know the kind of people who have a big mouth and then don’t walk the talk. Over the course of the years we saw that Conor is not just another thrash talker.
Conor is serious, he has a vision and ability to makes things happen. This is what we can be inspired by. But you already know that…
“Confidence defines McGregor’s game, and when he’s pressuring, he feels confident. When he feels like he’s in control, he can push an incredible pace and bury his opponent in a steady stream of left hands.” ~ Steven Rondina
Conor is the exact opposite of Mayweather when it comes to mindset and emotions. While both of the fighters are mentally tough, Conor is like a fire. He can start fast and burn his opponents down. He vacuums all the oxygen around them and suffocates them, then burn them to ashes. But that is also his weakness. If there is no oxygen, there is no fire and Mayweather did not leave him any.
“But that’s also McGregor’s downfall. If he feels like he’s not in control—that the range at which the fight’s being contested isn’t his range, he doesn’t have the timing, and his opponent isn’t afraid of his power—he burns huge amounts of energy trying to explode and force the big shot.” ~ Steven Rondina
The above mentioned mental state is what I observed in both, experienced as well as less experienced athletes (and people in general). Simply put, it is easy to have high highs and low lows. Just recall a moment when everything went as you wanted. You were probably all hyped up, feeding on the energy and multiplying it.
But being all over the emotional scale is a very unstable and therefore undesirable state. If you hit a bump on the road at that point, you crash.
The state you want to learn to achieve is a neutral emotional state that allows you to perform at your best long term, with low highs and high lows. You can achieve it by reducing your high highs and low lows, steadily increasing your baseline over time.
This is what I believe Conor needs to learn.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
You have no fighters that can be on my level, mentally. ~Floyd Mayweather
If McGregor is fire then Mayweather is earth.
I admire Floyd’s calmness and groundedness. He is very collected and have high level of self esteem and he has the work and life experience to prove it.
When it comes to emotional state, I have observed it again and again, that the winners, best producers, best athletes, they all are collected and not very emotional (As I wrote above, they have low higs and high lows). This kind of state comes from their previous experience and ability to stay relatively calm in high pressure situations.
During the fight we could see how Floyd was pretty much the same from the start until the finish, when he took opportunity and finished Conor after wearing him down.“Eventually, Mayweather figures out what his opponent’s trying to do. He’s eminently adaptable, and sucks his opponents into a slow-paced fight that plays to his strengths. He creates the strategic context that prevents them from doing what gives them the best chance of winning the fight. That’s what makes him great.” and that is exactly what happened during the fight.
What we can learn
- Build yourself from the bottom up. Work hard, build your self-esteem on your work ethics which you can refer to.
- Managin one’s emotional state is a critical skill to have. It will allow you to stay calm and difuse high pressure situations.
- Ground yourself. High energy is attractive and entertaining to watch but is not necessary to have. You can be passionate and calm at the same time.
- Create the outcome in your mind before it even happens. Use visualization to focus on what you want, not what you don’t want to happen.
- Borrow from the future – have the faith and belief of the outcome you want to happen. If you doubt it, you will not put in the work necessary to achieve it.