Even when @TheNotorious is not at press conferences he is still dominating them. The curiously named Dana White looked sheepish at a press conference yesterday (April 23) when despite Conor’s absence he was still the centre of the questions. His smile when saying he was not cross with Conor had all the authenticity of a Cheshire cat and was only from the teeth out. In all the not present not participating Conor was mentioned 53 times.
Do not be confused – this is a major battle of hearts and minds. It is a David with a Goliath-sized shadow pitched against the murkier side of UFC where finance holds sway and fighting rules are as clear and transparent as the Cat’s smile.
Other MMA fighters have joined the cause backing Conor’s decision not to be pushed around by the UFC.
However, there is an obvious difference between Conor and other fighters, he has the deep pockets to pick a fight. It could be argued he is also has more to lose if he doesn’t get his way but that is a moot point – he has picked the fight and the world looks on to see who will win.
It is more interesting given his last fight, his leapfrogging of classes and his loss. In that loss he gained more support from the nervous supporters on the fringe of acceptable society. He displayed grace, not an attribute much associated with Conor before. It also played into his emerging love for all things Irish and home: traits and passions obviously very close to his heart but only emerging into a wan sunlight after the fight.
Conor has dreamed big, bigger than his hope, and pulled it off. In leapfrogging into his unsuccessful fight he set himself for not a fall but MMA immortality. We believed in his thirteen seconds of fame. We believed that he had fought all his life for that thirteen seconds of fame. Yet when he was defeated in the last fight he still emerged the winner. It is hard to pinpoint how but somehow Conor did better than Diaz in the subsequent publicity.
However, he had to do the next thing, whatever that was. We certainly did not expect him to retire on Twitter and thank everyone for the cheese. We did not expect him to say he was not retiring less than 48 hours later on his other favourite medium, Facebook. His coach John Kavanagh is echoing his digital footprints. Is this a digitally choreographed dance? Is this thought out? It could be argued a moment of churlishness on Conor’s part has been skilfully turned into a righteous stance – hard to prove it either way currently. One imagines he will have to go all the way now to make a credible blow for fighter freedom. This is the ultimate divisional jump – from fighter to protester – and we want him to win this time. A second failure is not likely to make the grade.
I hope he does win. I liked his passionate patriotism; it felt genuine. On principle I dislike the alickadoos profiteering and benefitting literally from the sweat of the players be it in rugby, football or especially in MMA.
Indeed, not only is he playing the UFC at their own game, he has just outgamed them. In a message on Facebook he hit it on the nail:
There had been 10 million dollars allocated for the promotion of this event is what they told me.
So as a gesture of good will, I went and not only saved that 10 million dollars in promotion money, I then went and tripled it for them.
And all with one tweet.
Maybe it is time for principled decisions to make a comeback. And for the little man to stand tall.
— Conor McGregor Army (@McGregorArmy) April 27, 2016