Saturday 18 November 2017

'Conor McGregor should take on Clarkson Jeremy Clarkson to capitalise on showbiz profile'

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor

Eamonn Sweeney

The great American poet John Berryman once wrote, "Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so." I'm inclined to feel the same way about Conor McGregor's press conferences, and perhaps to add in the words childish and tacky.

This isn't meant as a criticism of McGregor, who I hope defeats Jose Aldo and becomes UFC featherweight champion. The loudmouth role is the one he's been scripted to play and the elan with which he carries off the charade has made him an eminently marketable commodity. Fair play to him. This is how the game works and he plays it well.

Yet I couldn't help feeling that the MMA-loving nine-year-old who featured at the event was perhaps the perfect age to appreciate what was going on. Because while McGregor has to pretend to take all the pre-fight huffing and puffing seriously, there's no need for any grown up to do so.

MMA devotees get cross if you question the sport's athletic bona fides. And rightly so. McGregor has proved himself inside the octagon and deserves to be judged on his performances there rather than on his theatrical excesses elsewhere. Yet the sport does itself few favours by its mode of promotion. The Croke Park event was right out of the WWE playbook and would only have reinforced the prejudices of those who think of MMA as some kind of hyperbole-driven American freak show.

That said, there was something extremely amusing about the Irish media's attempts to extract some significance from it. We're not used to this kind of hoopla over here so most of the fawning coverage came off a bit like a middle-aged man pretending to like hip-hop because he fancies his chances with some young one.

The breathless revelation that UFC head honcho Dana White had said, "I've never seen any shit like Dublin," was somewhat spoiled by the decision to stick a few prissy asterisks over the excremental noun, rendering it as s***. The on-line commenter who suggested that this stood for 'slum' is obviously only a blackguard. There is nothing funny about that comment at all. I'm not laughing, I'm sneezing.

For the moment McGregor seems to straddle the line between sport and showbiz. Hence the attitude of RTE, who didn't consider him worth a place on the shortlist for their sports personality of the year award yet judged him worthy of a fly on the wall TV series.

That's why I think it might be a good idea to capitalise on McGregor's showbiz side and set him up with a celebrity warm-up bout before he meets Aldo. His opponent? Jeremy Clarkson. The bout would begin with the snobby English dickhead coming into the ring and calling McGregor a "lazy Irish c**t." It would finish with . . . well, we can use our imaginations.

I wouldn't just pay for a ticket for that one, I'd put up part of the purse.

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