I started watching the UFC about two years ago and in the beginning there were only a few names that I knew. The big ones. Legends like Chuck Liddel, Tito Ortiz and the current superstars Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor. As a new fan of the sport I fell in love with Conor McGregor. He brought so much energy with his cockiness. As I became more involved in the sport my love for Conor started to fade. His personality became too much. At press conferences his larger than life personality seemed too large. How can one person take over the stage that has 15 others fighters sitting there next to him? Conor became that guy that everyone talked about before and after each event. The other guys, well who really cared?.
Conor is one of those people you either love or hate. Most people love him but there are those that hate him. Fans of the sport that hate him obviously want to see him lose. However as each fight passes I think any true fan of MMA has to respect what Conor McGregor has done for the sport. I’ve come to a point where I have to completely change my perspective on the man. At the press conference for UFC 205, Conor was asked how much he was worth after the sale of UFC for $4.2 billion. His response,”Four point two billion.” And he’s right.
My thoughts on Conor as an individual and a fighter have changed since I became a fan of the sport. I went from loving him to disliking him to respecting who he is. I find myself looking for reasons to dislike him but it’s becoming difficult. So instead of being a hater I’ve started to embrace the individual that he is. I started to think about how successful Conor has become and how he got to this point. In such a short span of time he has risen to the top and is now the biggest name of the sport. Instead of bashing him I focused on the positive qualities and realized that there is a lot that we can learn from him.
Conor brings so much excitement to the sport. Like most fans I look forward to his fight press conferences. I want to see how both he and his opponent will react to one another. What was better than Nate Diaz vs Conor press conferences? Or what was funnier than Conor telling Rafael Dos Anjos that fighting him guarantees a red panty night for him even if he lost? Is there any other fighter in the sport that does anything like this? The answer is no. I’ll go as far to ask which other athlete is bringing this kind of attention to their brand or sport? I’m pretty sure the answer is there isn’t. Whether you hate or love him you always want to hear what he’s going to say next. He has grabbed the attention of millions of people and we can’t look away. There’s a quote “The one that talks the loudest is usually the weakest.” It seems like the one talking the loudest is making the most noise, getting most of the attention, and also making a lot of moves. Speaking up never hurt Conor. It has only propelled him. What if he kept quiet and let the UFC take over the course of his career? I highly doubt he would be in the position he is in today.
In the case of Conor McGregor, his brash personality has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for him and the UFC. He’s the best thing to happen to the UFC along with Ronda Rousey. Money has become such an important topic in MMA right now and Conor McGregor is at the forefront of it. I think other fighters should thank him for what he’s doing. It’s no secret that Conor is making the most money out of all the current UFC fighters. He’s getting paid the most for his fights and I’m pretty sure he’s getting a percentage off of the PPV fights. Conor knows what he is worth and will not settle for less. If you want him, you better pay. He knows what he brings to the table. What I love about him most is that he doesn’t make any apologies about it. How often do we compromise for something less than we are worth? More often than we would like. I admire that Conor knows his self-worth. Have you thought about your self worth? Can you put a value on it?
Leading up to the fight at UFC 205, Conor said he had a few announcements to make. The press kept asking what is the announcement? Can you give us a hint? They asked his coach what the big announcement had to do with? Is he taking a break? His coach sort of hinted towards it. Then the revelation came at the post fight press conference. Conor is going to be dad. He’s entering a new chapter in his life and if the UFC would like this train to keep going, changes will need to be made. He will now have a family and he will have to choose between spending time with his family or fighting in the sport. He’s currently the most active fighter, besides Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, and he’s also the main guy promoting the hell out of the sport. He made a point to say that celebrities now own the UFC, which is true. Conan O’Brien and many other celebrities that are managed by WME have minor stake in the company. The fighters on the other hand don’t. They are the ones that help to build the company to what it is today. It seems very ass backwards for the fighters not to have a percentage.
His announcement is important for two reasons. First reason, as I stated in the previous paragraph is that Conor knows what he is worth. Second reason, his family comes first. Conor obviously isn’t working a 9-5 job. He is an entertainer so even though there are many perks there is also a downside. His training and fight schedule will keep him away from important moments with his child. Now that he has a child his priorities are already starting to change. Going forward I wonder how much he will fight. At the post fight press conference he said that if the UFC wants to keep this train going changes will have to be made. And they will have to be made soon.
Money has become a prominent issue in the UFC recently. Conor has openly talked about making large sums of money. And with the sale of the UFC, many fighters are rethinking their contracts and the money they are making. I think Conor has sparked a much needed conversation in the MMA world. Conor may be the biggest draw in the sport right now but that doesn’t mean that other fighters don’t put in the same amount of training that he does. There are fighters making 20k a fight and their opponents making hundreds of thousands of dollars. How does that make sense? It doesn’t. These fighters don’t get into fighting for the money. They fight because they love it. For those who have made it into promotions like UFC, they should get paid well for the work that they’ve put in. They have put in countless hours at the gym, created a team, promoted themselves and the UFC brand, entertained huge crowds, and let’s not forget everything they put their body through. From the training to dieting to weight cutting. Before you sign your name on that dotted line think about what you are worth.
Another admirable trait of Conor is that his passion for the sport is undeniable. I think people tend to use the word passion loosely. I’m not sure that people understand what it means. There is something that separates people that are passionate about the field that they are in versus the people that love doing something. I love cooking but am I passionate about it? The answer is no. When you’re passionate about something, you live and breath it. The majority of your attention goes to that particular thing. Everything that Conor does comes back to fighting. He’s currently the most popular fighter in the sport and one of the biggest athletes in the world. He could easily be doing other things at this point. He could be acting, be a model for luxury brands, or simply enjoying life on a beautiful island. Instead he’s at the gym training. He’s training all the time. He’s consistently working on his craft. To be the best that’s what you have to do. I think a lot of people forget the journey and the sacrifice that goes along with becoming the best. And when you do become the best the learning doesn’t stop. Conor isn’t in a movie. I don’t see him endorsing a lot of brands. I don’t see him getting chased by paparazzi and ending up in magazines. I don’t see him lounging the day away doing nothing. Where do we mostly see Conor? At the gym. What do we mostly see Conor doing? Working on his craft. What is Conor doing when he’s not training? He’s planning his next move. He doesn’t seem to concern himself with things that don’t meet his end goal. For as long as he’s been in the UFC he has put himself as a fighter first before anything. I like that he doesn’t forget that.
Conor believes strongly in loyalty. He’s had the same team since before entering the UFC. There are many people that bring in a whole new team when they reach a certain level. Instead of thinking just about himself and what is best for Conor he brings the whole team with him. They are on this journey with him. If there’s anything that Conor dislikes more it’s people that are disloyal. Hardcore fans of UFC know this from watching Conor on The Ultimate Fighter when he called out TJ Dillashaw for leaving gyms. This all comes back to Conor not forgetting where he came from and who helped him get there. Obviously Conor is the star but this is a team that sticks together and works toward a uniform goal.
Probably the most important lesson we can learn from Conor is his relationship with Dee Devlin. Relationships may not that important to everyone however if it is then it is definitely important to find a person that is interested in being on the same journey with you. If you’re into very different things and can’t find common ground well then there will be problems. Conor and Dee have been together for eight years. Some people may think that she’s there only to enjoy the ride and all the perks that come along with it. And that may be true however I think the two of them work together as a team. I think they are a great example of a strong relationship working in unison. How many couples do you know that are on completely different wavelengths? I’m sure many. With it comes along disagreements, fights, feelings of sadness, regret and disappointment, and eventually a breakup. From an outside perspective it appears as though that they are on this crazy journey together as a team. It’s so important to have a partner that is supportive of you and your dreams. Someone that encourages you to follow your dreams. Someone who is willing to help along the way. He is so grateful to have her in his life. Without her he wouldn’t who he is today.
I can only imagine what the future holds for Conor. I’m sure it will consist of bigger dreams that most likely will become a reality. Conor is starting a conversation that goes beyond MMA and fighting. We constantly doubt ourselves or put ourselves last or don’t have any idea what we are worth. Let’s put the antics at press conferences aside and focus on the type of individual that Conor is. He has many attributes that we can admire and replicate.