I am not sure how many remembers the Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor versus Nate Dias in UFC 196. But those that do will recollect how both the fighters bobbed and feinted, each waiting for the other to open up a mistake. Behind random and desultory cries of ‘hit him’ from either camps, force fields of vigilance collided and retreated within the Octagon waiting for something to happen.
And then in a sudden blitz, Conor broke free with his hook kicks and punches from future; the bruises slowly thickening Diaz’s face like a catalogue of stupefaction. And then a left hook bid him goodnight as Diaz wobbled into the night.
Conor is not a fighter for those with a soft midriff. But those who love the adrenalin rush, this Dubliner is a phenomenon. His prickly nature and loudmouth ways have already drummed up interest in the crossover fight with boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. At 40 Floyd is a legend with boxing skills only a few mortals can match. But what Conor has, he doesn’t.
In the build-up to the Diaz match, in a very Tyson-esquely manner he promised to eat his flesh after defeating him. The battle was well won before it began.
News is he had passed out while sparring the ring as he trained for the fight night that will be regulated by boxing rules. But that does not stop Conor to trash talk Mayweather, leaving him outwitted and smouldering. While the pre-match tours have been stricken by racist, homophobic and misogynist comments, it has also been witty, slanderous and a naked raw show of reigned-in aggression.
Peacocking around in his beautiful suits, lightly promising destruction to his enemies, he zaps through my middle-aged culture filters. He is the beast of the UFC. His left fist is an astonishment. His audacity medieval and Moorish.
And now Conor promises a WWE entry. Pro wrestling would be a most fitting platform for the UFC lightweight champion. McGregor delivers the perfect WWE-style promos leading up to his fights. He has clearly borrowed Ric Flair’s swagger and Vince McMahon’s walk.
And should he make that move to the squared circle after the Mayweather fight or after he’s done with UFC, animosity will already be waiting for him there. As Mike Bohn of Rolling Stone pointed out last August, “McGregor caused outrage within the world of professional wrestling” when he went off on the industry in a media conference call.
The UFC is the largest and most dynamic promotion company in the still-emergent sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), and McGregor, a former plumber’s apprentice from Dublin, is it’s most splendiferous, entertaining and bankable character. Inside the Octagon, he cuts a figure of a near-comic with his disputatious nature, hoisting his fists and bending his knees like a Regency pugilist; in the world and outside the ring he sells the fights like nobody else.
In his chewy Dublin accent, he methodically maddens his opponents. And then in the ring he finishes them with his unpredictability. He may win or lose against Mayweather, but that hardly matters to him or his psyche. For deep down he is a winner who keeps the world on tenterhooks with his left jabs, hooked words and pink tie.
Meet the warrior from Ireland. And get ready for his sluaghghairm!!