Conor McGregor: The Sands of Time
Some fighters experience incredible highs, but very few of them get longevity. When the glory arrives, and with it the fame and the money, staying at the top of the food chain is often harder than the journey to the summit.
What was once an obsession, becomes a hindrance, a chore, you take the success for granted, you feel untouchable. Before you realise it, you wake up one-morning knowing others have surpassed you.
Taking time away rarely pays off, the body becomes softer, the skills decline, the reflexes are not the same, a split second slower is usually disastrous, the difference between winning and losing. Repetition and consistency is the usual recipe for success in any sport, probably more so in combat sports.
Conor McGregor attempted to be different at UFC 229, but something was missing. At the pre-fight press conference the words didn’t flow the same, and in the Octagon neither did the punches.
Before the fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov we were fed a narrative about how well prepared he was. Post-fight we were told about an injury, how bad the camp was and even the lack of dedication from McGregor.
I was surprised so many people picked McGregor in that toxic grudge fight with Nurmagomedov. I remember asking someone why he was picking McGregor, he said that people forget how good McGregor was. The key point in his reply is ‘was.’
McGregor tries again at UFC 246, against an opponent he is largely expected to beat. But Donald Cerrone isn’t the washed-up fighter many believe him to be. On the slide, probably, but he has still beaten good fighters in recent times.
Cerrone will tell us where McGregor lies in the current MMA landscape, what if any future he has left in the sport. McGregor talks encouragingly, maybe optimistically, about this being the first fight of a season. But Cerrone is more than capable of ending that season prematurely on January 18th.
Past glories count for nothing, McGregor has to show he still is a force, evidence of recent times shows he probably isn’t.
McGregor has a lot to prove, to his doubters and to himself. The Irishman was once a formidable fighter, now he has to prove he still is a fighter to be reckoned with at the highest level.
The old act has been tiresome of late, the verbals which destroyed many good opponents, have had little or no effect in recent fights. Floyd Mayweather just smiled at him, he knew, as did Nurmagomedov.
It’s been hard being a McGregor fan since those incredible highs, disappointment in action and in his actions outside of the cage. Many before him have had it all, then lost it when fame overcame reality. This is not lost on McGregor, and there have been rare signs of humility and acceptance that things need to change.
But has he left it too late, McGregor has got away with far too much, a failure to punish just fed the ego, but a return to what he used to do best is what he needs.
McGregor has given us some memorable moments, some truly special nights, and despite what we have seen lately, I hope he gives us some more. But is he more businessman than a fighting man now.
History tells us that we rarely get to see happy endings, just a sad painful end to once-great careers. Comebacks don’t usually end well, this will probably end the same way.
Even if he gets past Cerrone, the likely opponents that lie in wait, will probably be far too much for McGregor. But whatever his fighting future is, he has a more important fight ahead. McGregor has plenty in his life, every sporting career ends at some point, it’s how they handle it that determines the rest of their life.
McGregor in that respect probably faces his toughest ever foe, it’s a fight he can win, one he must win.