I’m going to try to describe Conor McGregor, the fighter, in brief. This guy is a hyper athletic egomaniac with a straight left hand that destroys everything it touches. He’s industrious. He’s made his own luck. And with the help of hoards of Irish fans, and a distinct lack of tact and charm, he has smack-talked his way into fights that should never have happened, while avoiding those that should have.
And I’m not being judgmental here. His twitter account alone is enough evidence of his over-inflated sense of self. Conor lives in a world inhabited only by conor, and by faceless shapes and shadows that he intends to punch… in the face.
But Conor McGregor’s Narrative is benefited by the fact that fight fans, myself included, are generally myopic with overdeveloped short-term memories. We remember his first fight with Nate Diaz, his second fight with Nate, and all of the weirdness in between. But does anyone remember the Mendes fight? Well I’ll remind you. Conor spent a good amount of time on his back with no defense but to look to the ref for a stand up while getting elbowed in the face.
The interim of the two Diaz fights saw McGregor receive a brown belt in jiu jitsu under his instructor, John Kavanagh. He also had a stretch of training with Marcelo Garcia black belt, Dillon Danis. Yet his second fight with Diaz was a boxing match.
So, like children, we were read the tale of Conor’s evolution as a grappler without ever bearing witness to it. And the thing we now have most fresh in our mind is his triumph over adversity, his victory over Nate Diaz. And through some channel that doesn’t exist, we will, at least subconsciously, associate this victory with his prodigious grappling skill.
This man knows how to tie up loose ends, and I admire that. Truly. In fact, there are many things I admire about Conor McGregor. But I’ll write about those things when he’s done admiring himself. There just isn’t room enough.
Update and Revision:
When I started writing this post, Eddie Alvarez and Khabib Nurmagomedov were slated to fight each other. And Conor, though I knew he would end up on the UFC 205 card somehow, was still in the shadows with a swollen foot. But now I sit here editing this post just seconds from the UFC 205 presser that will have McGregor, not Nurmagomedov, across from Alvarez.
So I’m not going to pretend to know how all of this was hashed out. Khabib couldn’t have been happy that a title shot was taken from him, particularly from someone who hasn’t had a single fight at lightweight. As for McGregor, he gets a shot at the lightweight strap against an opponent he actually has a shot at beating, as remote as it may be.
If you don’t know, Alvarez can not only scrap, but he can wrestle too. He even took a shot at McGregor’s grappling prowess at the 205 presser by asking him why he needed two jiu jitsu coaches (an allusion to training with Dillon Danis). You can choose you’re own answer to that question. I’m interested to see what McGregor does when a fighter with wrestling skill, whose comparable in size and hasn’t taken the fight on three minutes notice, puts him on his back.
If McGregor does win his fight with Alvarez, he has Khabib Nurmagomedov to look forward to. A fight in which we will probably see a whole bunch of these: