TIME

The making of a cynical sporting spectacle in the desert

UFC champ Conor McGregor, prepping for his Aug. 26 fight against Floyd Mayweather, receives a post-workout massage on Aug. 11

LAS VEGAS IS AMERICA’S CAPITAL city of absurdity, where gambling palaces rise from the desert, illusionists escape from straitjackets and anyone can get rich quick. Which makes it a fitting site for the most craven carnival of the nation’s sporting summer, the fight between American boxer Floyd Mayweather and Irish mixed martial arts (MMA) star Conor McGregor.

On Aug. 26, Mayweather, the recently unretired welterweight champion and one

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