It was just seconds after he collected another head to add to his ever-growing collection of featherweight craniums (as he would so colourfully describe it), that Conor McGregor was up and over the octagon’s fence and in the face of featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Right there, the stage was set for the biggest featherweight fight in mixed martial arts history: Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor.
That’s indisputable. It will be the biggest fight that the division has ever seen and will be a major event in the Ultimate Fighting Championships’ calendar year.
And there are countless reasons why.
The match-up of skills will be spoken about; can McGregor absorb those leg kicks, and will Aldo’s somewhat flat footedness be his Achilles Heel. Oh, and the antics. The antics are a demonstrable, of course. Whether you endorse McGregor’s actions after the fight on Sunday night or vilify him for it, there’s no way that when him and Aldo came face to face in the thick of the throng that you didn’t, even just a little, feel as jolly Justin Bieber fan at the MTV music awards.
There’s something, though. Something that has been the underlying narrative since we have envisioned the fight: intent. It’s what has made McGregor stand out. It’s really what has made him a star.
Right from the beginning, McGregor set his sights on the top. It’s something that’s refreshing to see in the sport. The UFC provides a post-fight, open-mic, platform to 80% of winners on any given card, and it seems that the most interesting thing that they have to say is to thank their local sponsors, Bill and Bobs Burger Basement (I hope that exists), and recite that they will fight “anyone the UFC puts in front of them”.
I’m sorry, but casual fans don’t know who ‘Anyone’ is, and yawn!
Even though the stage was set when McGregor hopped the fence on Sunday, Aldo vs. McGregor’s fight promotion didn’t start on January 19, 2015. This fight has been building ever since McGregor signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Now, don’t get me wrong, not everybody can do what McGregor is doing. You must have the fighting skills to validate it, but having purpose isn’t out of the question for anyone. McGregor is certainly resolute, but it’s clear that he doesn’t overlook his opponents. You can see that in his performances, but he has always made the public aware who the ultimate enemy was: Jose Aldo.
This intent, this purpose, has been the driving force behind everything that McGregor has done up to this point. However, it’s not just McGregor. It’s also the intention of Jose Aldo, who now refers to himself as the King, to prove that McGregor is a indeed the ‘jester’, and this plot will culminate with the bout that everyone – whether they agree with it or not – wants to see when Brazil and Ireland clash.