Mayweather vs McGregor: Social Sentiment for the Big Fight
There was a much-anticipated showdown over the weekend. It involved one man mainly known for punching people, and another man known for punching, kicking, and wrestling people.
This event garnered 4.6 million pay-per-view buys, plus nearly 3 million illegal stream watchers.
You may have heard about this fight thanks to the loud, constant promotion and international press tourthat stopped in four countries on two continents.
It was a massive event — the marketing teams involved made sure of it.
But what did the public think? Before, during, and after the fight, what was the overall reaction?
We looked at more than one million social media and web mentions over the last month. In particular, we wanted to see the social media sentiment towards the event — how average viewers felt about the whole thing.
To do this we used Mention’s sentiment analysis tools. Here’s what we found.
Rumors about the fight began last year. At the time, McGregor was an uber- popular UFC fighter, and UFC president Dana White stated in May 2016 that there was no chance the fight would take place. That was then.
So the fight was on. But why was this so exciting?
That had to do with the two fighters involved:
Many call Mayweather the best boxer of all time. At 49–0 (before this fight), he’d never lost. And frankly, he’d never come particular close. In 21 years, he “dominated” stars such as Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto.
Mayweather came out of a two-year retirement for the fight, made a lot of money, and promptly retired again. This time, he says, for good.
McGregor has now boxed professionally exactly one time. His real profession is in mixed martial arts, which involves some of the same skills, but is in fact an entirely different sport.
So why was this fight so exciting for fans?
They had two huge personalities facing off, McGregor proving whether or not he could box, and the possibility that Mayweather could lose for the first time ever.
Oh, and an enormous marketing campaign to support all this.
The betting odds
Did McGregor stand a chance? Not really, according to Las Vegas. Numbers varied (as always), but Mayweather was favored by as much as -450. That means, if you bet on Mayweather, you had to bet $450 to win $100, or 2/9 odds.
That’s a hefty margin. Mayweather was the heavy favorite, and was willing to bet big on himself:
A few other betting tidbits (from Bovada):
- “Will Lil Wayne wear a shirt during the walkout?” was available as a bet.
- As was “how many Donald Trump tweets on the day” (over/under 6.5).
- Bettors who thought that McGregor would throw a kick received 7/1 odds.
One last betting tip. If you were confident that Mayweather would win, you could simply place a bet and win back the cost of the fight. In other words, you could watch the fight for free.
Social sentiment analysis
So that’s a little background for you. But what we’re really here to do is see what social media users thought about the fight.
Social sentiment is a way to add context to your monitoring. When you’re dealing with tens or hundreds of thousands of tweets, it’s very hard to derive meaning in a hurry.
Sentiment analysis tells you whether a mention is positive, negative, or neutral. While it’s easy enough to see for yourself the sentiment for one mention, this tool is incredibly helpful when dealing with large numbers.
You don’t have time to look at each tweet or forum comment individually, so the technology does it for you.
Here’s what that looks like.
Sentiment towards the fighters
Interestingly, sentiment towards both fighters tended to be negative:
(Neutral mentions have been removed)
In Mayweather’s case, this was predictable. For one, people love it when sporting giants lose. On top of this, Mayweather has a history of domestic violence and spent time in prison in 2012.
Although incredibly famous, rich, and successful, it’s not surprising that Mayweather receives negative comments online and on social.
McGregor’s case is a little more intriguing. Maybe his larger-than-life personality grates on people. Or maybe they thought he should stick to the UFC.
So why would sentiment be negative (almost equally) towards both? Looking closer at some of the tweets and posts, a few key themes emerge:
McGregor didn’t stand a chance
Remember those betting odds we looked at? McGregor only started boxing this year, and he was fighting maybe the best of all time. When you think about it, that seems a little crazy.
If you agree with this, you’re likely to dislike one or both of these fighters, because the fight itself wasn’t worth the effort.
The whole fight was about the money
Perhaps the biggest criticism of the fight as a whole was that it never should have taken place. Floyd Mayweather had retired, and Conor McGregor had never boxed before.
If not for the spectacular amount of money involved, why would either fighter want this?
And with pay-per-view costs as high as $100 to watch, it’s easy to see why people could be turned off.
Sentiment towards the fight itself
Despite negativity towards the fighters, conversations using the main hashtags were actually overwhelmingly positive:
This is a little harder to explain, but here are a few theories, based on the mentions we looked at:
It was a good fight
Perhaps one reason that so many of these mentions were positive was that it was actually a decent fight. It lasted into the 10th round, and McGregor managed to connect on some punches.
This was unexpected. In fact, those same Bovada odds from above suggested that the fight would last fewer than 9.5 rounds.
Many of these mentions have an air of positive surprise. People were worried they might get another fight like Mayweather vs Pacquiao, “a complete waste of time and money.”
Instead, “the fight had something for everyone. It ended up being the one thing most people didn’t expect: a pretty decent boxing match.”
McGregor held his own
McGregor hit Mayweather significantly more than anticipated — 111 times in total. He even won the first round unanimously:
A novice to the sport shouldn’t even be allowed to fight against Floyd Mayweather. The fact that he held his own was received well by viewers.
Fans generally say nice things
These are people using the main hashtags for the fight. They’re likely fans of the event, excited to see it all play out.
It’s a little boring to suggest, but maybe people who use official hashtags are just more likely to be positive.
Why do you think sentiment was negative towards the fighters, but positive towards the fight?
Sentiment + gender
With Mention, we’re lucky enough to be able to filter mentions by gender. So we can see whether men and women felt the same way about the fighters.
As stated above, Mayweather has a history of domestic violence. Just guessing, but it makes sense that women would have a particularly strong dislike for the fighter.
Looking at the raw volume of social media messages about the two, though, there isn’t a clear difference between women and men:
A slightly larger percentage of women mentioned McGregor (right) than Mayweather, but probably not significantly more.
These numbers are roughly the same as those using the main hashtags (#mcgregorvsmayweather, #mayweathervsmcgregor, #mcgregormayweather):
In short, roughly 25% of those who posted about the event as a whole were women, same as for the individual fighters.
But that’s just volume. It doesn’t mean that every mention was positive, or that every person posting was a fan. When we isolate only negative messages, the proportion of those from women grows:
33% of comments from women about Mayweather were negative. But again, it grows for McGregor as well.
It seems that women may be more inclined to dislike both McGregor and Mayweather, but in relatively equal amounts.
So what have we learned?
It would’ve been nice (for me) if I’d been proven right, and there was a clear gender bias against Floyd Mayweather. Maybe if we analyzed every tweet from 2012 (when he went to prison), we would see a clear trend.
The key takeaway is that you can’t rely on assumptions. That’s true for this post, and it’s true in your marketing strategy. You need to measure as much as possible, and build your strategy based on data.
Monitoring tools can be a valuable part of this. None of the information we’ve seen today would’ve been available to us without one.
A few fun bits
Let’s finish up with some funny stories and social posts from the big event. Because that’s what social media’s all about.
From bad seats to ringside
A British bartender spent thousands on tickets, only to find that he had terrible seats. So when he spotted free seats near the ring, he did what anyone would do: pretend he’s part of Mayweather’s security team and walk right in.
He then took photos with Diddy, LeBron James, Jamie Foxx, and countless other stars:
A few of the finest memes
Want to monitor your own events?
We’ve explained before how to monitor marketing events like a trade show or conference. It’s not complicated — you just need the right strategy.
More importantly, you need the best tools for the job. Choosing one can seem tricky, but it’s really not too complicated.