Tuesday 27 September 2016

Cathal Pendred: Conor McGregor deserves a lot more than silly click-bait headlines

UFC 196: Diaz fight is the next best thing to Dos Anjos showdown

Cathal Pendred

Published 02/03/2016 | 13:25

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor

I was about to begin writing a piece in which I voiced my annoyance with how little coverage the McGregor-Dos Anjos fight had been receiving, when the news broke that UFC lightweight champion Raphael dos Anjos had to withdraw from the contest due to a foot injury.

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In the build up to one of the biggest fights in the history of the UFC, in which two current UFC champions were to collide, with Conor McGregor vying to do what no man had done before (hold 2 UFC belts at the same time), I felt there was little discussion of how big the occasion was and the enormity of what Conor was potentially on the cusp of achieving.

It’s not that Conor wasn’t getting any headlines, because that certainly wasn’t the case. He isn’t just ‘Notorious” inside of the octagon, he is notorious outside of it too. You just have to take one look at any internet outlet to see that he is the ‘click-bait king’.

However, I felt that the problem was that very few media outlets were discussing the magnitude of the super fight between Conor and dos Anjos.

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Stories were being written if Conor changed his hairstyle or if he was seen within 50 yards of fast food restaurant, but nothing on the super fight.

Even the UFC’s initial promo poster for the fight omitted Conor’s belt in the picture, which failed to illustrate that this was a very rare occasion in which two current UFC champions squared off!

When compared to the build up of the Jose Aldo versus McGregor fight, the promotion and hype to the dos Anjos-McGregor fight was almost non existent, despite it being a fight with consequences of a historic nature.

So despite my initial disappointment in losing out on that super fight, it left me with the hope that when the fight inevitably does happen, the magnitude of the occasion will rightly be celebrated and discussed in the build up.

A mouth watering contest in the meantime would help achieve that, and that is just what we got!

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With Nate Diaz replacing dos Anjos to face McGregor, the absolute best case scenario has been made of a bad situation. The fight matches up to two fighters that march forward with their aggressive and exciting styles at the sound of the opening bell, which will lead to a highly entertaining fight. However, I think what excites the fans more about this match up is the fact that this sees two guys who usually get the better of the ‘war of words’ before a fight.

Conor’s rapid ascent in popularity has been greatly assisted by the manner in which he toys with his opponents with verbal attacks and quips before fights. Every fighter Conor has ever faced in the UFC has seem ruffled before the fight even began due to Conor getting under their skin. It has provided a constant source of entertainment in the lead up to all Conor’s fights.

Similarly, Nate Diaz is known for his pre fight verbal attacks of his opponents and that is another reason for his great popularity among fans. Nate is also known to get under his opponent’s skin before fights have even started. However, Nate and Conor’s pre fight jeering of their opponents couldn’t be more different.

You can’t win an argument with a person who doesn’t feel the need to make sense. This statement couldn’t apply to anyone more aptly than Nate Diaz. He is very prone to opening his mouth in attack of his opponents, but very seldom do his comments make any sense. This is one of the reasons he generally gets the upper hand in the verbal confrontations.

Simple as that, an argument cannot be won against someone who doesn’t make sense; but you can make them look like a fool. Conor’s quick wits and intelligent jibes will do just that.

We already saw this at the pre fight press conference in California last week. This element of the match up is what makes it so interesting and refreshing.

In Diaz, we have an opponent who will not retreat into his shell with the constant jibes from Conor or wilt with the media attention that comes with being a part of the ‘McGregor Show’. In Conor, we have a fighter who will not be stumped and silenced by Diaz’ nonsensicalness.

We haven’t seen a fighter who hasn’t shrunk in his seat when exchanging words with Conor. This is the reason this fight stood out to fans and why it seemed to be the most popular choice fight to be made when dos Anjos pulled out.

That fan interest was shown in numbers last Thursday when an unprecedented 220,000 people tuned in LIVE to watch the McGregor-Diaz press conference.

We were given just a taster of what we can expect in the coming days leading up to this fight, and perhaps a taster of what we may see on fight night, as both fighters are known for taunting their opponents in the heat of battle. We have never seen either of them face a fighter who will taunt them back. Don’t be surprised to a see a full on conversation ensue in between punch combinations on March 5th.

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Although this fight pits two highly skilled martial artists with unique styles against each other, what has sparked everyone’s interest is that this match up is bringing us something new.

The unique personalities of these fighters is what has really whet the appetite of the fans. Although Conor has been denied the opportunity to make history in holding 2 UFC belts, I believe this fight will do even bigger numbers than the original title fight.

For me, there is no question in who will get the upper hand in the war of words or win the fight itself, but I have the popcorn at the ready and will enjoy every second of the entertaining build up and contest.

Conor is just better at ‘talking the talk’ and he is superior when it comes to ‘walking the walk’ This is unique match up and the perfect to prologue to the Champion versus Champion fight that was originally scheduled.

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