EXCLUSIVE: Conor McGregor criticism is good for business, says coach John Kavanagh
Such is the polarising nature of his brash personality, Conor McGregor is unlikely to ever receive universal plaudits for his exploits inside the UFC octagon.
However, according to his coach, John Kavanagh, that innate ability to divide opinion is a sure-fire guarantee that the 27-year-old Dubliner will remain a marquee draw for the entirety of his career.
If the numbers emerging in the aftermath of McGregor’s interim title-winning tilt against Chad Mendes at UFC 189 are to be believed, the man they call the Godfather of Irish MMA is, appropriately enough, right on the money.
Held in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 11, UFC 189, which has been widely lauded by fans and media alike as the greatest event in UFC history, set a new MMA record for a live US gate with the 16,091 fans who attended accounting for a $7.2m windfall in ticket sales.
In addition, early projections from the UFC have indicated that the event broke one million pay-per-view buys, which are sold at roughly $60 apiece, with McGregor receiving a healthy chunk of the proceeds for his nine minutes and 57 seconds of cage time. Even the weigh-ins, which tend to be largely tame affairs, attracted a record attendance of 10,000.
Though, herein lies the irony. Many of McGregor’s detractors claim it is his ability to generate income, not his fighting prowess, which has led to his meteoric rise through the UFC’s ranks.
It is those same naysayers who say that McGregor should never have been awarded his ultimately cancelled title fight with featherweight champion Jose Aldo, having never faced an elite wrestler.
Aldo’s injury meant that McGregor was matched with an athlete of such repute, in the form of Chad Mendes. However, even when he prevailed in that scenario, many were quick to attribute the victory to the American taking the bout on just two weeks’ notice, and without the benefit of a full training camp.
Speaking at the Unilever Personal Care Summer Festival, Kavanagh, as is his wont, sees the advantages to be gained by such myopia.
“You’ll see (criticism) that in Conor’s future fights, and he’s going to win a lot more fights and a lot more titles," he told Independent.ie.
"Every fight they’ll always have a reason. But that’s good for business. That brings stadiums, that puts bums on seats and you can be damn sure that there’s two things Conor is interested in; that he wins on the night and that the cheque is big.
"He’s not too concerned about somebody tweeting something mean."