Between Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor – the two most mainstream of UFC stars – there is seemingly no media outlet around that won’t devote some ink to the sport of mixed martial arts. And I guess that’s a good thing… at least when it comes to a reputable outlet doing some actual research and not just publishing nonsense.
The Wall Street Journal has thankfully done the former. In advance of UFC 194 this coming Saturday, which will see McGregor take on Jose Aldo in the most anticipated featherweight bout of all time, the WSJ has
Loudmouthing is a cherished part of the fight trade—it’s practically part of the job description, since fighters are expected to promote their matches, especially if they hope to translate interest into lucrative pay-per-view buys. Muhammad Ali raised braggadocio and head games to an art form, but when done poorly, talk can turn an audience off. Charisma is essential. You can’t come off as a mere blowhard when you’re denigrating your opponents—there has to be a twinkle of self-awareness that the audience can pick up on.
McGregor has mastered this subtle wink. I don’t want to say he’s effortlessly charming because he’s not always effortlessly charming—his barbs can be crude and his language is sometimes unprintable—but there’s an irresistible quality to much of his ranting. Maybe it’s the smooth Dublin brogue. Maybe it’s his finely tailored clothes, which provide a jarring contrast to the fearsome, heart-eating gorilla tattooed on his chest. When McGregor appeared in a three-piece suit on Conan O’Brien’s show this summer, he came off less like a cage-fighting brute and more like fair-haired, Rat Pack-y Dean Martin. “Really, I cannot hold any grudge towards him,” McGregor said of Aldo, who had recently pulled out of their July match, citing an injury. “I would not want to face me, either.”
The whole piece is worth a read. There’s tons of insight – way more than all the usual stuff that will be coming at you this week.