Mayweather vs McGregor: Notorious by name Notorious by nature

Those many boxing pundits, trainers and pros who will sit down to watch Conor McGregor fight Floyd Mayweather in the belief that the result is a forgone conclusion, would do well to reflect on the culmination of events of which they have become a part of.  

It has often been written- particularly in those publications who have been dragged begrudgingly into the coverage of MMA, largely by McGregor’s meteoric rise- that the Irishman collected his final benefits cheque in Dublin just days before travelling to Stockholm whereupon he dismantled Marcus Brimage in little over a minute in his UFC debut.  

In addition to his fight fee McGregor claimed a $60,000 ‘knockout of the night’ bonus, just as he said he would do in the pre-fight press conference. Thereafter life for the fighter, his team and his family would never be the same again. His public prediction was the first of a series that would earn him the nickname ‘Mystic Mac’, due to the unerring nature of his prognostications. 

In truth, the phenomenon had its roots years in the past, before he had even really established a significant following on Ireland’s local circuit. UFC announcer (and brother of legendary boxing announcer, Michael) Bruce Buffer has recounted the time he met the current UFC Lightweight World Champion in Dublin. Aged just 21, and with every inch of the braggadocio with which he now struts in $5000 tailored suits, he marched up to one of the promotion’s most recognisable characters and declared, “My name is Conor McGregor, remember it, you’ll be announcing it some day.” 

Much of what many joke is a gift for divination is in fact the lightweight’s adherence to the practice of and faith in ‘The Law of Attraction’. Proponents of the ‘Law of Attraction’ believe, broadly speaking, that visualisation of one’s goals and unwavering belief in their inevitability create a powerful psychological feedback loop of positive affirmations that drives the practitioner towards his goals.  

Many deride the philosophy as an unholy mess of 19th century pseudoscience and late 20th century self-help babble. However, as a highly unscientific sample of one, Conor McGregor is a stunning advert for the power of the method. As those who have spoken to the man in person can attest, when ‘The Notorious One’ details his goals he spells out the picture of what he wants to achieve in very clear, specific, and considered tones, as if he is no longer speaking directly to you, but rather painting the picture of his hand raised and the gold belt adorning his waist in his mind’s eye.  

It can be a powerful and somewhat awe-inspiring experience to hold private conference with the current UFC Lightweight World Champion. The brash showboating and courting of crowds seemingly miles away, the public sneering at his opponent’s supposed abilities and character seemingly forgotten as he carefully illustrates what physical and technical attributes they may possess, and how he will either unpick or quickly eviscerate them. 

As UFC’s former vice-president of public relations recently said to MMA Junkie, “Conor is the one person I’ve met who believes everything to come out of his own mouth… Conor believes and wills things into existence.” And how. Opponents, belts, entire promotions have been bent to his will in an unfathomably short time frame, so much so that when Conor shouts, “JUMP!”, his own employer now asks , “How high?” 

The very existence of the Mayweather/McGregor contest is simply an extension of this unprecedented determination and confidence. The MMA fighter called out the greatest boxer in the world on American late night television, when asked what was left to achieve if he held two UFC titles at once, and the suggestion was almost ubiquitously dismissed as a fantasy, not only in boxing circles, but in MMA.  

But one by one the cards fell. Mayweather was lured by an opportunity to make unprecedented money, improve his record to the illusive 50-0 mark, and pick apart an upstart who had never fought a boxing match in his life. The UFC and Dana White- widely expected to block such a venture- quickly got on board when the threat of McGregor doing it anyway reared its head. And, finally of course, the Nevada State Athletic Commission acquiesced to a bout that under any other circumstance would have quickly been dismissed as potentially dangerous mismatch. 

And, so, here McGregor finds himself, on the brink of authoring the single greatest sporting story in history. 12 rounds- or less- in which to ensure that statues will be built in his honour, and on the cusp of wealth that will ensure that his great-grandchildren never have to work a day in their lives.  

Yet, it is still likely that Floyd Mayweather- a boxer of such skill that the greatest in the world have barely landed a blow in his 49 fights- will triumph over a man who made his name in a different sport altogether. However, given the unlikelihood of his Irish opponent’s achievements so far, is it really unfair to suggest that he might just be unable to land one mighty blow with his famously concussive left hand and upset the odds? 

The boxing cognoscenti may be confident in the improbability of an MMA fighter defeating one of their own sport’s true greats, and perhaps rightly so. But they should also consider that the cocksure Dubliner they have so blithely dismissed has already stared into the face of the impossible and laughed. Those who know him, know he will not pass up any opportunity to do so.

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