Remembering Mayweather vs. McGregor, one year later

Floyd Mayweather, right, defeated Conor McGregor by TKO in a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug. 26, 2017. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

It has been one year since Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor met inside a boxing ring in Las Vegas -- and to this day, the whole thing still feels a little surreal.

Just think: Perhaps the most anticipated fight in combat sports history began with a referee essentially reminding one of the participants in which sport he was competing.

"You're going to hear me say stop, because I'm not going to wrestle with you and I'm not going to grapple with you," referee Robert Byrd said as he looked squarely at McGregor.

It was like a last-second nod to the fact that many viewers were just as interested to see whether McGregor would simply follow the rules of boxing as they were in his chances of actually winning.

Mayweather defeated McGregor by TKO in Round 10 in front of 14,623 at T-Mobile Arena.

What this spectacle said about combat sports -- that a mismatch of epic proportions would greatly outsell any legitimate championship fight -- is slightly troubling (maybe even a little depressing), but it's certainly no surprise. Mayweather vs. McGregor was an appeal to imagination and a perfect fit in the current state of media coverage, celebrity worship and Twitter fingers.

Its impact on each sport is obviously easier to pinpoint now than it was a year ago.

Boxing enjoyed a full summer in the limelight in 2017 and didn't forfeit much for it. Mayweather was 40 years old when he fought McGregor, and on the verge of retirement anyway.

For MMA, it was an opportunity to introduce its most compelling star to an often-hard-to-reach mainstream audience. It gave UFC president Dana White the ability to call 2017 the most lucrative year in company history -- a nice luxury, coming off the promotion's head-turning $4 billion sale in 2016.

And thankfully, it doesn't appear to have tainted McGregor's MMA aspirations. Not with the announcement of his upcoming lightweight title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov on Oct. 6 at UFC 229.

There was real concern that McGregor, who went from collecting welfare in 2013 to a nine-figure payday to fight Mayweather, would lose some of his competitive edge amid last year's theatrics. Not necessarily that he might never fight again, but that he might prefer the "event" to the "sport," or stray from his "fight anyone" reputation. (Or, God help us, entertain a boxing match against sparring partner-turned-enemy Paulie Malignaggi.)

But McGregor's decision to return to the UFC in October, against an undefeated Dagestani champion who wrestled bears as a child and has never lost so much as a round in the UFC, proves he's still the risk-taking, glory-seeking champion we remember. And as far as the sporting element of MMA is concerned, that's worth celebrating.

One year later, maybe the best question about Mayweather vs. McGregor (and why it still feels a little surreal) is whether history will remember it as sport or entertainment. Mayweather himself has said he "carried" McGregor in the early rounds, which were the only competitive rounds of the fight.

There's no question the whole thing delivered in the entertainment category, though. And at the very least, we can now say it doesn't appear to have greatly interfered with the "sport" of McGregor's career. So, whatever it was, chalk it up as a win.