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Following on from a podcast opinion theory rant on The Couch Pundit podcast I have been asked to go into more detail on my thoughts on Conor McGregor.
So here goes, and will be followed by many unfollows/unfriending and other general social media hatred.
Starting at the beginning with a quick history lesson, we have an apprentice plumber who fought on the side working the site hours and spending the day wishing for a life that was impossible while fitting pipes and making tea. One day the decision is made to pursue fighting as a career, hoping to make more money than he did on the site and to quell any resulting arguments in the family home. Turning his back on a potential career to back himself into the unknown world of mixed martial arts.
Moving through the Irish circuit into the UK and Europe with success and more belts that the trousers section at pennies followed. Leading to the debut in the UFC against journeyman Marcus Brimmage. No Irish man had ever won in the UFC, not only did Conor win, but he won decisively and with style that immediately got the attention of the MMA world.
From there it was a one way ticket to the top. 2 more belts, 2 divisions and a showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
This is all backed up by Conor being loyal to his team and friends, more hardworking than anyone else in the industry and having a business acumen that the education system in Ireland said he never had. It was all a fantastic story. Amazingly inspirational and something that set an example for anyone wishing to excel in their chosen field. He was able to spot a gap in the market and showed America a character that they could love or hate. Whichever way they leaned they were willing to pay to see him win or lose.
The fight with Mayweather finished in the 10th round, after a massively positive showing from Conor. He walked away with more money than he (or anyone) could ever imagine. All a just reward for his work. Aside from putting himself in the same bracket as business elite, it also took away any chance of trouble ever happening to him, he can pay his way out of any trouble he will ever meet. Consequence is no longer a word he needed to think about. It took away any worry he will ever financially have.
His ‘normal’ changed.
My theory is that when Conor would get the money together for a Chinese takeaway after a long week of training back in the day, he can now get on a private jet and fly to china to eat food. This is his new normal. He began as a product of his environment, but now his environment has completely changed. Nothing wrong with that, it is part of his rewards for work. The thing we have to remember is that the people he grew up with are still on the grind. Still on the commute to a job they hate, still working hard for every penny to pay every bill. The ‘normal’ in their lives are about as opposite as it gets.
The want or need to be loyal to his friends who were loyal to him is constantly in flux with his new normal. Bouncing from fights in pubs to fights in front of millions of paying customers is a massive dichotomy.
The rumours are always there, but I would suggest that if someone handed any of us a cheque for €100mil we would all go off the rails for a time while trying to find our new normal. For me, it would mean I would buy 2 pairs of jeans in pennies instead of 1 pair, but for others it would mean private jets, Gucci underpants and having a live in child minder which eliminates the need to get up for the feeds etc etc. Conor now doesn’t have to see Monday morning traffic if he doesn’t want to. Each to their own. But much like any sort of business, this new normal needs managing. Conor is a business now. He is his own solar system. This is massively positive and a great achievement for him. But like any commodity on the stock exchange it needs managing, because if you don’t manage the commodity it will become volatile.
In closing, I found the McGregor that we saw on TV a fantastic watch. Part Ric Flair part unstoppable fighting machine with an Irish charm and wit that made the Irish nation love him for being one of our own, and America fell in love with him because they don’t see anything like that in sport. My worry is that trying to balance his new normal with his loyalty to the people who were loyal to him may be tough to manage. While keeping the principles he has always had, the way he existed prior to becoming the worldwide celebrity he is now has to change. Living in a gated community and counting the money in between vodka and orange would be a great result for the years of hard work. Going into Hollywood and taking that over instead of taking punches to the face might be a just reward for changing his sport.