Campbell McLaren: Part Two of Our Two-part Interview
The man who along with Art Davie, John Milius and Rorion Gracie brought us the Ultimate Fighting Championships. We chatted about the current state of the UFC. What he thinks of Conor McGregor and what was it like back in those hazy days when the UFC was first becoming established.
“The UFC in my memory unspools like a movie. There were times when it seemed like they were scenes from a movie in and out of the Octagon. What I’m reminded of is there are a lot of passionate sports fans. The World cup is going on right now, hockey etc. But there’s something about a fight. When you go to a fight, there’s an intensity of that anything can happen feeling you don’t get anywhere else.
And I’ve been to championship sports events. They’re big and they’re exciting, I’m not saying it’s not exciting..I’m sure the World cup in Rio is exciting. But at a fight, there’s a laser focus when the fight starts because it is so primal and it’s so mano a mano, it’s man to man.
Being at a good fight. it’s just so adrenaline-charged, testosterone laced and I had forgotten how intense that was. And it’s more intense if you’re involved, whether you are a participant, fighting or promoter, whatever you are doing.”
Now that the UFC is finally returning to Dublin after a prolonged hiatus. I wanted to ask Campbell what he thought about their expansion into the European market.
“The UFC expansion is talked about a lot here, so it’s great to see Ireland on the map. But you know I gotta say, I think I’d rather go to the Dublin event, than the Glasgow event.
I’ll probably go to the Glasgow event, but there’s a, I don’t know. I think it’s just Conor, just seems like Glasgow wants the UFC, just so they can get on the list of countries that had the UFC.
They just want to be on the list. Whereas Dublin seems to have taken to this in a way, I mean they are embracing MMA as theirs. That’s what I am reading, that’s what I am hearing, seeing on Twitter and stuff. I think it’s great and I do love Dublin.
I think there is so much more of a great boxing tradition in Ireland. It sets a structure for MMA because MMA is still boxing to a great extent. I like boxing, I’m not knocking boxing, but MMA is the younger generations boxing. And there have been so many great Irish boxers and that helps too.”
You mentioned Conor McGregor a number of times throughout our discussion. So I take it you are a fan?
“I think he represents a style of fighter… We like tough guys that will bang, I think that. Well, look at GSP who’s one of my favourite fighters, a very tough guy you know… indomitable, very hard to beat. You will have trouble beating him.
You know Mexicans, Scots and Irish also like a guy like Conor McGregor, who’s just going to bang is he has to you know and we like that fighting spirit because that’s all we had. Mexico has got a nasty neighbour next door who beat them up for centuries…
I think there’s the spirit of we like the underdog and we like the tough guy, you know. Conor is a really skilled fighter, I don’t mean he’s a brawler but he’s got a brawlers heart. He’ll fight you, you’re gonna get bloodied and I like that about him and I also like his manner, someone that represents well.
The Irish Built America
The UFC has been very fortunate with Conor, you know. They have opened up a whole market with that guy. Not the biggest market, not as big as England, not as big as Germany. But you know, finding the right guy helps the UFC. So they need to find the right guy is what I’m saying, but there’s even more to that.
There’s such a different cultural mix for Hispanics. You’re Irish, you understand the Irish built America. You know American tv and American music.
But it’s very different for Hispanic Americans. They feel excluded from conventional culture to a great extent. Come to Boston as an Irishman and see if you feel excluded. Everybody there is Irish, come to New York, everybody’s Irish. It’s very different for a Hispanic person. They are not represented in politics, the names of streets, the culture, it’s just different.”
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