Conor McGregor is a trash-talking mixed martial artist who possesses a skill set that lets him back up his never-ending lip-flapping.
“The Notorious One” has the impressive footwork, speed, and striking ability of a man with an extensive boxing background. He’s good. Really good. I’ve followed McGregor’s meteoric UFC rise for a few months now, as he’s left a path of broken brawlers in his wake—and he’s done so in explosive fashion. Last weekend, during UFC Fight Night 59, the 17-2 featherweight dismantled veteran Dennis Siver in a short two-round affair, yet I no longer have interest in seeing the brash Irish star ever fight again.
The UFC’s shoved the talented loudmouth down its audience’s throat in the weeks leading up to the event, courtesy of a marketing push that even some of the company’s current title holders have yet to enjoy. The first major annoyance? The UFC announcers comparing McGregor to Muhammad Ali, an icon who transcended sports to become one of the faces of the Civil Rights movement. To be fair, to McGregor’s backed away from the promotion’s Cassius Clay comparisons. Props to him for that. The UFC would’ve had to contend with the massive fan blowback had McGregor took the company’s word as truth.
The second annoyance? The show’s production crew kept a camera pointed toward McGregor’s face at all times, just in case the fighter gave an over-the-top reaction as he watched fellow countrymen mix it up in The Octagon. Honestly, UFC Fight Night 59 felt more like a WWE event than a MMA event.
Then this happened.
Conor McGregor is now set to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title.
I understand that the UFC is desperate for a fresh supply of marketable fighters after a rough 2014 that saw the promotion lose top talent due to injuries and contract disputes. I also understand that the UFC will give fighters title fights based on more than just rankings—fan demand plays a role, too, and McGregor has lots of it. That said, this incredible push already has an online backlash; many UFC fans are hoping that either McGregor quickly fades away or Jose Aldo uppercuts his head into the fifth row.
Scaling back a bit, the UFC/McGregor situation made me ponder the nature of the entertainment media. New movies, albums, and video games are hyped to obscene levels—think about how we know the multi-year plans and release schedules for the upcoming DC and Marvel superhero flicks. We’re living in a time of hyperbole and never-ending anticipation, and it’s grating on me in a very bad way.
There’s a delicate dance of giving people what they want vs. giving people too much of what they want, and the UFC needs to quickly level McGregor’s scales before customers like me who are currently the dissatisfied minority become the majority.