The world of sport is a great thing, pulling us away from the bullshit and stupidity that we have to deal with on daily basis. Our sporting world features many great athletes and personalities, although Conor McGregor now exists in rare air, not only as a mixed martial artist but also as a star of the sports world. After dispatching Eddie Alvarez with his usual dose of pin-point punches, McGregor made history and blasted himself to a position alongside say; LeBron James, Christiano Ronaldo/Llonel Messi and Serena Williams.
That's just my crew and there may be some differences in that class of sports stars between punters out there. Before this fight, McGregor was a must-watch attraction and the show he put on in the lead up to fighting Alvarez, in the octagon and then everything that happened after the fight, only escalates this further. As is always the case with martial arts, all that really matters is what you do when competing against another human and that's where McGregor's greatness begins.
Nearly everyone McGregor has fought against, especially in the past 24 months has voiced their opinions about McGregor being a phoney. Alvarez was the latest and given what Alvarez had done prior to fighting McGregor, his belief that McGregor hadn't fought anyone like Alvarez before was somewhat fair. Alvarez is 32-years-old and has done the MMA rounds from the Maximum Fighting Championship to Bellator and the UFC, fighting in 33 fights with 28 wins with his title-winning destruction of Rafael dos Anjos proving to be a highlight of Alvarez's career that nicely summed up Alvarez as a fighter.
Whether it's his perceived lack of jiu-jitsu or his airy-fairy movement trainings, it always felt as though McGregor was looked upon as being someone who was enjoying limited success. That this success would end with an octagon war against Alvarez who loves to get up close and personal with his opponent, trading blows up against the cage; the sort of style that a free-flowing McGregor would apparently struggle against. Not to mention Alvarez's wrestling credentials.
McGregor ran the show though and dictated the fight from the start using his trademark front kick and right hand - that McGregor dangles in front of his opponent like bait - to keep Alvarez at a distance. Alvarez fainted to take McGregor down a few times but as with any great striker, takedown defence is crucial and McGregor's is slept on, especially when much of McGregor's defence in this fight came in the form of attack. Alvarez moved forward like the gritty bulldog he is, in similar fashion to how he dismantled dos Anjos but McGregor viewed this as an opportunity to pounce, landing heavy blows when Alvarez crept inside McGregor's range.
Watching McGregor go about his work is majestic because you're watching someone who is in complete control of every movement their body makes and with such a variety of strikes at his disposal, McGregor can attack from nearly every position. A front kick is followed by a high kick, a lazy jab from McGregor's right hand is followed by his main weapon; the left hand. It's MMA at its finest, borderline art.
Whether we like it or not, the fight business revolves around selling yourself, promoting yourself, giving yourself leverage. Regardless of how quiet or shy you are, once you become a UFC fighter, it's simply your job to position yourself to get the fights you want and to always snap up an opportunity to call someone out. That's fighting and in McGregor, we have someone who combines excellence inside the octagon with excellence outside of the octagon; the perfect professional fighting package.
Some would say that McGregor is an arrogant prick - possibly the dumbest statement anyone could make. Fighters need to promote themselves and the majority of the UFC's fighters are martial artists which instills values, morals and humility. That's the foundation of MMA and you only need to hear McGregor speak in interviews to understand that everything he does is based upon a foundation of supreme confidence in his ability as an athlete. That supreme confidence also allows McGregor to fully understand his value, something which alludes many athletes who are caught chasing, instead of being chased.
McGregor appears to constantly be in awe of the support that he gets and in the press conference after this fight, McGregor outlined a mere desire to ensure that the fans had a good time, to ensure that the lad running down the street in pursuit of McGregor's car enjoyed the show. Following this, at the end of the press conference, McGregor thanked the media for their hard work and everything they do - along with McGregor - to promote the sport. This is a man who operates at the highest level in all aspects of the fight business and his humility, or knowledge of what it's like to be an everyday geezer is as refreshing as it gets.
We live in a time when people live life muzzled, scared to take a chance, scared to change the way our world is going. Sport offers an escape for the public and McGregor provides fantastic entertainment inside and outside the octagon as he's fighting and promotional master. What we should also appreciate is that McGregor is someone who us youngsters can look up to and be inspired by. Not only does McGregor exist among the greatest athletes on the planet, he doesn't give a fuck about norms that older folk have laid out for us and neither should we.