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Conor McGregor claims he would be open to the possibility of facing Floyd Mayweather in a lucrative boxing bout. The notoriously brash MMA star, who became a featherweight champion with his devastating 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo last year, steps back into the octagon on 5 March as he faces company stalwart Nate Diaz at UFC 196 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
McGregor was initially gunning to become the first man to simultaneously hold belts in two separate weight divisions, only for his scheduled meeting with lightweight title-holder Rafael dos Anjos to be abandoned when the Brazilian suffered a broken foot during training. The equally confident 12-time world champion Mayweather, meanwhile, is currently in retirement after bringing the curtain down on his illustrious unbeaten career with a straightforward unanimous decision victory over Andre Berto in September 2015.
When asked about the possibility of facing Mayweather, McGregor told BT Sport: "In boxing? I'm open to discussion. Come at me. But I hold the key. It is me who holds the key to the fight game. I am open-minded. I am open for discussion.
"I love competition. I love fighting. It would be nice to make that fight if the fans were interested and wanted to see it. Obviously they would... I'm all about them numbers so I would certainly do that, no problem. "
The outspoken duo do have previous, with Mayweather having bemoaned the difference in public reaction to McGregor's egotistical approach compared with his own . "They say he talks a lot of trash and people praise him for it, but when I did it, they say I'm cocky and arrogant," he said in an interview with Fight Hype. "So biased. Like I said before, all I'm saying is this, I ain't racist at all, but I'm telling you racism still exists."
McGregor subsequently responded angrily to that claim on social media, posting on Facebook: "Floyd Mayweather, don't ever bring race into my success again. I am an Irishman. My people have been oppressed our entire existence. And still very much are. I understand the feeling of prejudice. It is a feeling that is deep in my blood.
"In my family's long history of warfare there was a time where just having the name 'McGregor' was punishable by death. Do not ever put me in a bracket like this again. If you want we can organise a fight no problem. I will give you a fair 80/20 purse split in my favour [seeing] as your last fight bombed at every area of revenue. At 27 years of age I now hold the key to this game. The game answers to me now."
BT Sport is your home of unmissable live sport and the only place to watch UFC 196: Conor McGregor v Nate Diaz & Holly Holm v Meisha Tate. Tune into BT Sport 2 live from 1.00am on Saturday 5th March. For more info visitbtsport.com