Behind all the talk and all the egotistical antics, Conor McGregor emerged from his first UFC defeat with a great deal more integrity than most predicted he would when he was eventually humbled.
The brash-talking, fighting pride of Ireland has a way with words, as he declared a type of mental warfare with his opponents before the fight takes place. Usually never afraid to cross the line, McGregor had set himself up for an almighty fall.
Instead, his humbled reaction in the aftermath of UFC 196, where Nate Diaz marred his then unblemished record in the UFC was refreshing to see – and was correctly met with praise throughout the sporting world.
The legitimacy of MMA as a sport has been widely discussed and questioned in Ireland since Conor McGregor put it on the mainstream map, and that’s probably not going to change. Regardless of what people think of the sport, the Conor McGregor story proves you can do anything when you put your mind to it.
His story is nothing short of remarkable. McGregor came from nowhere – he was a young man with a dream; an aspiration to go somewhere that had never been done before in Ireland, and rise to the UFC’s summit.
Most would have laughed at him back in 2007 when he decided to pursue a career in MMA. Even his father raised concerns at the time and said that he “knew nothing about the career that he could possibly get out of it.”
Videos have been surfacing on the internet that were recorded back as early as 2008, with a young McGregor predicting he will be UFC champion one day. Who would have believed back then that it would actually happen?
He talks quite a bit, and therefore there’s certainly not a shortage of quotes – but his analogy that it was an obsession with his craft and carried him to the top and not talent is inspiration in itself, especially when you look at where it got him.
McGregor has acquired a huge fan base worldwide, many critics believed that once he lost a fight, he would also lose his fans. But if his last defeat is anything to go by, it would seem that his fans are as determined and proud as the man himself.
“This is an obsession. Talent does not exist, we are all equals as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that’s that. I am not talented, I am obsessed.”
His journey will not just inspire a generation of Irish MMA fighters, but anyone who is looking for motivation in any way should look to him. He proved that if you want something bad enough, there’s is nothing stopping it from getting it, nothing but yourself.