Friday 30 September 2016

Joe Molloy: Conor McGregor's true persona re-emerges after all the hollow posturing

Joe Molloy

Published 15/07/2015 | 02:30

Conor McGregor on the offensive against Chad Mendes
Conor McGregor on the offensive against Chad Mendes

Good man Conor McGregor; just when I was ready to give up on you, you pull me back in. What a performance!

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I was barely aware of McGregor when I first met him back in early 2013 in a Newstalk studio. Frankly he blew us away.

Aged 24, he was fresh on the UFC scene after his debut and we encountered an utterly compelling mix of charisma and energy and self-assuredness.

I realised he was a very special character, damn likeable too. So I was signed up.

In the last year or so, though, it has started to feel a bit pantomime for me.

McGregor's contributions feel like an on-demand schtick as opposed to anything authentic. The routine is hollow; at times even he seems dulled by it.

The trash-talking has lost its impact, while the philosophising seems increasingly pretentious and immature.

For sure part of the problem is the line and frequency of questioning, married to the ultimate purpose of his public utterances. The man is selling a pay-per-view fight, and subtlety never really wins that race.

We're also overexposed after his recent world publicity tour.

I stayed interested, mind. And I set my alarm for 5.0 on Sunday morning. The bout was gripping.

His performance was incredibly gutsy. For the first time, he was cut. He was in a bit of bother. Chad Mendes' ability to get him on the ground was hugely impressive and dangerous. But McGregor prevailed.

Substance

It was a timely reminder that there is a ton of substance and steel beneath all the hype.

What I particularly liked were his post-fight interviews. It was the real McGregor. Freed of the need to drum up headlines or maintain a pre-fight air of invincibility, we saw a far more likeable character.

He spoke like a human being again; about this camp in particular almost breaking him, about what the win means to him and about the respect he has for Mendes. It was really good stuff. He seemed empty, too tired for the routine.

It's been an incredible rise. He has the belt. There's no need to sell as hard now.

Irish Independent

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