|Money waits for no one, and neither does Conor McGregor.|
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." - Mark TwainWe associate Twain's famous quote with the vision of a scrappy underdog trying to fight to survive against insurmountable odds. We envision a David versus Goliath scenario. In most cases, that imagery rings true.
Conor McGregor is no underdog these days- but it's the size of the fight in him that is admirable. And it directly relates to the size of his wallet as well.
Some may get turned off to McGregor's brash nature. He has a willingness to verbally come up to the line, cross it and kick dirt over it with a smile on his face. McGregor may say things that offend some- but in a world where people back track all the time and never truly say how they feel, it's very refreshing.
The trouble with people who talk as much as McGregor does is that they can't possibly back up their claims. People were rubbed the wrong way when Chael Sonnen came in with his pro-wrestling inspired promos to boost hype for his Anderson Silva and Jon Jones fights. It worked, too- up until it didn't. Sonnen dominated Silva for twenty-four minutes and forty-two seconds. Then came the triangle he'll never forget. For all intents and purposes, that was the beginning of the end of Sonnen's relevance.
Yet, the 27 year old McGregor has done so time and time again against elite competition. He's an impressive 19-2 and riding a 15 fight win streak (7-0 in the UFC). His bold predictions against Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes proved not to be empty promises. And while you may not like him, you must respect his abilities.
What likely frustrates many of McGregor's foes in the UFC is not only his endless smack talk, but the fact no one has found answers on how to shut him up. While it may madden some, the hunger to be the one to defeat " The Notorious One" is motivation enough. This wasn't more evident than earlier this week when McGregor and his opponent at UFC 196- Nate Diaz- were talking to CNBC's Rachel Wells via satellite.
The interview was right up Connor's alley: all about the Benjamin's. He's just as happy to discuss all facets of his financial status (well, outside of his net worth as seen in the video) as well as answer anything related to fighting. But the same can not be said for Diaz, who looked about as comfortable as Barack Obama at a Donald Trump rally. The two had been run ragged over the media circuit throughout the week. Just as much as McGregor trains to go deep into his fights, he was far more conditioned to handle the media responsibilities more so than the short-fused Diaz.
Yet this fight never had to happen. McGregor's previous opponent, lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos pulled out of their scheduled UFC 196 clash due to a broken foot from training. Had he won, McGregor would have been the UFC's first ever dual champion. Without a chance at securing that historical feat, Connor had no legitimate reason to accept any other fight and risk his hot streak or drawing power. But it's that size of fight in the Irishman that couldn't let him pass up an opportunity to put on for his fans- and add to his bank as well.
Speaking of size, that's all the more reason to respect McGregor's decision. He had been cutting to 145 and looked rather gaunt at times at weigh-ins. Despite the drastic cut, the Irishman still dominated his foes. Now that he is fighting at Diaz's weight, he doesn't look gaunt at all. He looks plenty healthy and very happy. That's a scary thought heading into this fight. If I'm Diaz's camp, I'm worried.
Time is money, and while he could have sat around and rested on his laurels, McGregor knew that time could be better spent adding to his legacy. He stands to earn around $1 million for Saturday's bout, the highest purse ever for a UFC fighter. And that doesn't include bonuses, either. When asked by Wells how much he plans to rake in overall, Connor estimated he'd "breeze past $10 million".
It'd be easy to say the loud mouth champion is just in it for the riches and fame. While that may ring true, Connor McGregor has shown immense appreciation for his fanbase at home and in the United States as well. His recent run in with a fan in Los Angeles is proof The Notorious One doesn't take them for granted:
The twenty-seven year old out of Ireland hasn't lost since 2010, and none of his wins in the UFC have seen him go past the third round, either. Six out of seven of McGregor's wins inside the octagon have seen him finish his opponent handily, too. If there's one thing Dana White loves, it's fighters who finish fights.
McGregor's mouth might writes the checks, and his impressive striking arsenal cashes them. He's no smoke and mirrors act, either. His dynamic fighting style isn't just from raw talent or athleticism. The work ethic is there, and that drive to see the big picture even beyond fighting keeps McGregor hungrier than ever.
"The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable." - Connor McGregor
We have seen it many times in boxing where dream fights are made too late- or not made at all- causing an uproar among fight fans. Whether it's up to the ego of the promoters or fighters, viewers are the ones who end up the victims. The UFC and Dana White do their damndest to put the best product out for fans, and even that can't overcome fighters' egos at times. The most unfortunate of scenarios saw Jon Jones' refusing to fight a very game Chael Sonnen end up in the cancelling of UFC 151.
Dana White was fuming at the time would be an understatement:
"Jon Jones said I'm not fighting Chael Sonnen on eight days' notice'. A world champion turned down a fight- that's never happened."
"He's a f***ing sport killer."
Look no further than the very same UFC 196 card to see another premier champion (Holly Holm) with the same fighting spirit. After Ronda Rousey made waves about a fighting hiatus, rumor had it that she wouldn't be ready at the earliest until UFC 200 in the summer. Sure, Holm could have waited until then to cash a huge paycheck even with a loss- but the long break from fighting was not ideal for the UFC Women's Bantamweight champion. She puts her belt and future earnings at risk at UFC 196 against a game Miesha Tate.
Like automobiles, the human body is constantly depreciating. Even with the best diet and training, time is against us all. Both Holm and McGregor realize this, and are making the most of their careers.
You can continue to bash McGregor if you'd like. I doubt it bothers him. But while you might be waiting to see who knocks him off his supposed high horse like Holly Holm did to Ronda Rousey, appreciate not only the greatness that is The Notorious One- but the transparency and willingness to be a true fighting champion.
Like it? Love it? Hate it? Let me know @SeanNeutron.