After so much volume, Conor McGregor finally spoke his truth, quietly
After the third round of UFC 229’s main event ended and Khabib Nurmagomedov let Conor McGregor off of the cage fence he’d pinned him against, the publicly boisterous Irishman offered a quiet supplication in relative private to the Dagestani champion.
“It’s just business,” McGregor said.
Nurmagomedov wasn’t having it. Not after months of McGregor taunting him, his family, his religious practices, and his nation.
Nurmagomedov had promised to do his talking in the cage on fight night, both metaphorically and literally with McGregor, and had no apparent interest in softening his approach or excusing any of McGregor’s public insults and attacks in the midst of fighting the former champion as the Straight Blast Gym team member seemed to be asking for.
“Let’s talk now,” Nurmagomedov said, in response as referee Herb Dean attempted to separate and return the fighters to their corners.
“Hey! Let’s talk.”
It was a brief but profoundly telling moment. In public, McGregor had insulted Nurmagomedov in the most personal of ways, even physically attacking him and other UFC fighters with a mob of thugs he’d flown in from Ireland last spring as they were cutting weight before a card in New York.
With microphone in hand, McGregor had repeatedly promised that once he got his fists on Nurmagomedov there would be one-sided violence from the Dubliner, even that he could and might well kill his Russian opponent. After three rounds of being dominated and bludgeoned by Nurmagomedov, however, it was clear to the world and likely also to McGregor that his predictions would not come to pass.
So, once actually faced with him, in a quiet voice, stopping short of actual apology, McGregor pleaded for understanding with his better minutes before he submitted to the pain Nurmagomedov doled out. Perhaps McGregor was starting to realize that for many, life and its most precious elements – family, home, faith, and pride – are not rhetorical playthings.
If he wasn’t, then, he certainly soon would in the riotous moments after his submission to Nurmagomedov as the lightweight champion taunted the silent and seated McGregor before going after the rest of his team and before “Notorious” ended up fighting several other angered Nurmagomedov teammates.
You see, McGregor hadn’t just arrogantly promised victory. In some form or fashion, most fighters usually do that, including Nurmagomedov.McGregor, as has become his disgusting habit, inflamed ethnic tensions with bigoted speech and mocked Nurmagomedov in the most personal ways.
McGregor made fun of Nurmagomedov not drinking in adherence to his Muslim faith. McGregor called the entire Russian people cowards who were chased into mountains. McGregor made fun of Nurmagomedov’s father and coach. McGregor repeatedly physically attacked Nurmagomedov and others, physically, including with weapons, and as recently as the day prior onstage at the ceremonial UFC 229 weigh-ins, he smacked “The Eagle” with his hands before throwing a kick at him.
McGregor’s insults and attacks were all loud, well-covered, and mediated by a system of interdependent institutions (the UFC, state athletic commissions like Nevada’s and New York’s, and American courts) evidently dead set on protecting McGregor from sanction or danger, as well as their own abilities to exploit them all for cash.
In the cage, with nothing between himself and Nurmagomedov but a referee, McGregor was first, ineffective as a fighter, and then meek and pleading as a negotiator. He thought he had an understanding with his opponent, or at least that he could quickly broker one.
Nurmagomedov already understood things as well as he needed to, however. McGregor said he wanted a fight, and he had a rough one.
He spoke up in public and from a distance, and now Nurmagomedov offered him the chance to flap his gums up close and personal.
It’s sad that McGregor has to learn the hard way that words and actions have consequences, that some people care more about the sport, family, homeland, and faith than he appears to.
I honestly hope that McGregor finally learned lessons that he should have been taught as a child and eases up on his violent and insulting rhetoric, especially if he’s doing and saying it all insincerely, in craven attempts to make more money. People who don’t mean what they say and do can find more trouble than they can handle when they run into people who do.
There are real people and then there are people who put on shows. The latter needn’t mix with the former.
Calling for fights you don’t actually want isn’t a healthy practice, and the resulting pleas with opponents to ease up on you while in the midst of battle are not a good look for anyone.
About the author:
Elias Cepeda writes a weekly column for The UG Feed; you can find Elias Cepe on Twitter @EliasCepeda.