They call him ‘Notorious’ for his brash combination of fighting and mic skills, but as Conor McGregor has climbed up the ranks of the UFC and the public consciousness, he has quickly become notorious for something else: being incredibly obnoxious.
This isn’t the first opinion piece to pick on McGregor’s personality in front of the cameras (and it most certainly won’t be the last). In his column in the Irish Independent following the Irishman’s most recent victory, Vincent Hogan explained why the mixed martial artist is not only letting himself down with his actions and words, but his compatriots too.
Once McGregor had delivered the all-important TKO to his opponent Denis Siver at UFC 183, thus guaranteeing him a title shot against featherweight champion Jose Aldo, he immediately jumped the cage to confront the unfazed Brazilian.
The number one contender then, with tricolour in hand, headed back into the octagon for an expletive filled interview with Joe Rogan.
Some supporters call it “charisma”, but the deluge of columns, articles, blogs and tweets expressing distaste for the fighter were not only entirely unsurprising, but clearly show that the law of diminishing returns is kicking in now.Other supporters claim that what you see is what you get with McGregor, something I would have agreed with up until about six to ten months ago.
After he signed his UFC contract, the first exposure that those of us with a lack of knowledge in Irish and British MMA got with the Dubliner was his very first interview on the MMA Hour. In it, Conor comes across as funny, a bit rough around the edges (as you would when you’re not exposed to media attention), certainly different from the pack, and could even go so far as charming. In his first UFC post-fight press conference, he jokes about being on the social welfare and we all laughed with him. Now he says he only does it because it brings him shed loads of money.
When he first came onto the scene, he was a breath of fresh air for fans and media alike. Two years on, it feels like everyone from MTV to TV3 to RTÉ have done a documentary on him. The UFC are currently riding the crest of a wave on the back of their new superstar. Undoubtedly, behind the scenes the fight company’s president Dana White, with dollar signs in his eyes, is endorsing and encouraging his behaviour. This is, after all, a man who encouraged his fighters to be controversial on Twitter in a time when athletes in other sports are being told to do the complete opposite.
And that’s the problem: what was once genuine is now just a sordid act to sell pay-per-views. Where there was once a glimmer of humble charm that now no longer exists in Conor McGregor. People are put off enough by MMA; now many are simply put off by him.