'Any sportsman who says he lives without doubt is a liar' - Brian O'Driscoll questions Conor McGregor's confidence
Brian O’Driscoll has said that all athletes, regardless of their success, at some stage experience a crisis of confidence, and that Conor McGregor will be no different.
Many have cited McGregor’s unflappable self-belief as the main component in his meteoric rise through the ranks of the UFC. Already the featherweight champion, the Dubliner will challenge Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight crown on March 5.
Former Ireland and Lions captain O’Driscoll, widely considered the greatest test centre ever, believes that any sportsman who claims to have never questioned their own abilities is simply not being truthful.
Speaking on Jarlath Regan’s Irishman Abroad podcast, the three time Heineken Cup winner was adamant on the issue.
“Any sportsman who says he lives without doubt isn’t even deluded, he’s a liar,” O’Driscoll said. “That’s all sports people. Some people might trick themselves into thinking they’re more confident than they are but it’s impossible to maintain.”
While O’Driscoll doesn’t doubt McGregor’s confidence in the here and now, he posited that it's improbable that the 27-year-old’s brio will not waver over the course of his professional life. Which, he said speaking from personal experience, is completely natural.
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“I think it’s still early in Conor McGregor’s career,” he said. “ I don’t know how long an UFC career will go but if you go for 10 or 15 years, as the likes of Messi and Ronan O’Gara or I have done, I think over a period of time it is very hard to maintain a really high standard of lack of self doubt. It is different in the fight game where it has to be all bravado.”
O’Driscoll admitted that the veneer a mixed martial artist has to present is radically different to that of a rugby player, but reckons that, in moments of reflection, McGregor is as human as anyone else.
“You have to be all front (MMA). No one knows the true inner thoughts of Conor McGregor. Only Conor McGregor does. I’d say John Kavanagh his coach, doesn’t even know that. And fair play to him if he believes everything he’s saying.
"But I’m sure at times, in his quieter moments, everyone has that element of self-doubt as to whether they’re still able to do it. And it tends to come in the later years as the body starts to ale slightly on you.”