New Book Release:
Chaos Is A Friend Of Mine The Life & Crimes Of Conor McGregor
By Ewan MacKenna
On 18 January 2020, Conor McGregor returns to the venue of his last fight for his UFC comeback against Donald ‘Cowboy’Cerrone.
Award-winning journalist Ewan MacKenna was at the T-Mobile Arena to witness McGregor’s humbling defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018, a loss that supposedly meant the end of his MMA career. Just over a year later, he is back.
What MacKenna saw that night and in the lead up to the bout confirmed what he already knew: fame had changed McGregor, and not for the better. In his biography, Chaos is a Friend of Mine, MacKenna delves into the psyche of Ireland’s most notorious fighter…
‘… People say to me be careful of the money, don’t blow it. If the money becomes a problem, I’ll get rid of it. I’ve been planning to get to this stage for a long, long time and I won’t let anything stop me.’
The year is 2013, and Ewan MacKenna is sitting in McDonald’s with Conor McGregor as he enjoys his weekly coffee, a treat in the eyes of a dedicated fighter. The Crumlin-born mixed martial arts fighter has not yet cashed his $60,000 prize money after his maiden UFC victory over Marcus Brimage, a first-round stoppage, but he knows the importance of it – only recently has he found himself in the social welfare queue.
Five years on and McGregor is late for his press conference with Khabib Nurmagomedov ahead of their showdown at UFC 229. By the time he arrives his opponent has gone, but it doesn’t stop him from launching into a diatribe against him before reverting to a sales pitch for his own whiskey, ‘Proper No. 12.’
Somewhere along the line, the fighter became a stranger to his art, increasingly drawn to the circus that surrounds him. But what is McGregor? A wonderful rags-to-riches tale? Dedicated athlete? Cultural phenomenon? Troubled soul? Out-of-control kid? Confused young man? Narcissist? Arrogant thug? Sporting icon?
McGregor is any and all but, crucially, more than most sporting stars, he is also a mirror of society.
In Chaos is a Friend of Mine, MacKenna takes in both Las Vegas in 2018 and Dublin in 2019 in order to examine McGregor’s journey, from his upbringing in the Irish capital, to his early days as a wide-eyed, prodigiously talented martial arts obsessive, to his recent antics outside the ring which have seen him grow bigger than the sport itself but spiral out control.
‘McGregor has always fascinated me – not always for the most positive of reasons and not always purely because of him directly either,’ said MacKenna. ‘Instead, he was a perfect person for this time and place, because he was the imperfect person for this imperfect time and place. A sporting representation of a society in complete regression speeding towards collapse, where his anger and bile made him money which in turn was used to justify any and all lack of morality.
‘When he burst on the scene he would have been anything people wanted him to be so long as they paid him for it, and this is what the world created for their amusement. What happened has been as grim as predictable, but through his story I wanted to delve into what makes and breaks celebrities in this era where worshipping them has reached new and troubling levels, through new and troubling methods.
‘What he did in his sport is incredible to look back on. But so is what his sport and we gave him a platform to do away from it. This isn’t just his story, for his journey is a reflection of so much more and that should terrify.’
About the Author
Born in Ireland, Ewan MacKenna is an award-winning journalist and author. He first interviewed Conor McGregor in 2013 after his maiden UFC victory, and has followed his career closely ever since, including covering his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in Las Vegas in 2018. A former Irish Sportswriter of the Year, he is a columnist with the Irish Independent and has also contributed internationally to The New York Times, Bleacher Report, ESPN and the Independent. He splits his time between Portugal, Brazil and Ireland.
Chaos is a Friend of Mine is out now