Conor McGregor is finding a balance
The Notorious Conor McGregor, if ever a man has divided opinion it is this one. Conor is the unique blend of entertainer and fighter, sometimes the lines blur, but it is imperative we did not forget that behind all the talk and showmanship is a lethal weapon that has done exactly what he has predicted to date.
Conor faces Dennis Siver this weekend in the main event of UFC Boston and to keep with the trend of predicting finishes has claimed the bout will end in under 2 minutes. A tough ask facing the brute Siver who has looked a powerhouse at featherweight, but it is hard to scoff at the idea considering what Conor has done so far in career, the Poirer and Brandao fights are a prime example of Conors predictions come true.
Gone Too Far?
Fox, The UFC, and MMA sites all over the world are fascinated with Conor, whatever he says reaches never before reached areas or people, and how McGregor is received by different audiences is intriguing. As his stock rising at home and abroad there is a slightly alarming growing trend of negativity against Conor.
It would seem that those who will row in behind McGregor have declared their support already and what is left of the general public either don’t care, which is perfectly fine or else are taking a slightly more negative view of the Countries biggest MMA star.
Over the Christmas period I ran into a friend who lives abroad, he is a school teacher and very sport orientated, we had only just started catching up when he brought up Conor, “Listen I know you follow the UFC craic, what’s the deal with this Notorious fella, is he an eejit or what?”, his question came on the back of Conor’s comments about RTE and wanting cash not credit in relation to the sportsperson of the year award, (a statement I thoroughly enjoyed).
I was completely taken aback but also intrigued, here was complete outsiders take on Conor and an insight into the way he is received with certain people, something I had not experienced before and it got me thinking, has Conors showmanship gone just a bit too far?
The Very Same Off Camera
Firstly let me make this clear I believe that Conor is not a spinster ala Chael, what he says even though flamboyant is completely believable because he backs it open.
I once spoke to John Kavanagh who said that Conor would be the same way in his hotel room with just the two of them as he would in front of the Worlds press, and if people have been following the UFC Embedded series for the upcoming fight it is clear that Conor is the same person off-camera as he is on camera.
Conors talk a lot, this is not groundbreaking news, but what seems to be happening is that new followers of McGregor and the sport are more interested in his talk than his fighting ability, and this is a real problem. The easy comparison is Chael Sonnen, when this happened with Chael people were more interested in watching his press conferences than his fights.
Conor can’t and hopefully won’t let this happen, because behind the talk and showmanship is an exceptional athlete that deserves the country of Irelands backing.
What gets lost in the talk is the fact that here in front of us is a special individual with a unique skill set. Ireland is the greatest country in the world for supporting one of their own on the world stage, with Katie Taylor, the Irish Soccer team and even Stephanie Roche on her march to the Puskas awards being prime examples, but this sentiment is not entirely carried over to Conor and the rest of the Irish invasion into the UFC.
People pay too much attention to what he says instead of what he does and has already done, for example, the O2 arena in Dublin would not have been sold out last July but for the ability and showmanship of “The Notorious One”. Conor stock will rise higher on his home turf but for now, I feel its reached its limit, a simple reason for this is the inability of people to separate the showman from the prizefighter.
Across The Pond
Across the pond is a different story, American fans and people involved with the sport either love McGregors talk and fighting ability or they hate his talk and scoff at his record because he has “Not fought a wrestler”. This line is getting incredibly boring and while is justified in the sense that Conor has not fought a pure wrestler to date what he has done is controlled everybody he has fought including high-level grapplers Max Holloway and Diego Brandao.
Now neither man will wrestle in the Olympics but their ability should not be ignored, McGregor handled both men on the ground with an ease rarely seen. I feel this is being completely over-looked due to the fact the UFC has matched Conor with stand-up fighters so far, but as my old coach used to say, “You can only beat what is in front of you”.
The outrage people feel that Conor has navigated around the featherweight wrestlers will be abated because sooner or later in the UFC top fighters fight top fighters and McGregor will fight every one of them and while I am no mystic Meg I do feel many will be shocked with the outcome.
This is the entertainment business and bringing eyeballs to show is what McGregor does best. As UFC matchmaker Sean Selby recently stated, “at the end of the day this is prizefighting, we are not only looking for the best fighter on the planet we are also looking to put together fights people want to see”.
This was in relation to Conor fighting current Champ Jose Aldo, possibly in Ireland, and fellow match-maker Joe Silva added, “People are gonna tune in (to Conor) because they wanna see him do well or they’re gonna tune in because there really hoping somebody’s gonna knock him out”, when discussing Conor`s ability to draw eyeballs.
Finding The Balance
For me, Conor has struck the perfect balance of showman and fighter but it is a precarious one, and if he should go too far to the dark side there is a very real danger of him falling into a bracket of fighters with the boy who cried wolf syndrome, who`s talk overshadows their ability.
It is time for Conor, not to leave the showman behind because this is an integral part of him, but to show those who doubt or have questions that he is somebody the Country should be proud to back and that he is worthy of that backing.
Images courtesy of Mirror.co.uk and Irish Times.com
How much is Conor McGregor worth
If we were to believe Conor McGregor’s Math the Irish fighter is already worth many millions. It is reported that he earned up to $7 million for his fight against Jose Aldo Junior for the UFC featherweight title. With talk from both the UFC top brass and the man himself of him being the first mixed martial artist to make $100, the world really is his oyster.
What next for Conor McGregor?
Conor has spoken about making a move up into the 155 lightweight division. He was a world champion under the Cage Warriors promotion in both the lightweight and featherweight divisions. And now he is looking to do the same in the UFC. Whether or not he will make the move is a foregone conclusion. It’s really a case of when.
First, he must deal with threats in the featherweights before any move up takes place. Dana White himself has pretty much said as much, so watch this space.