Just Like Muhammad Ali, They Called Him Notorious
Aldo vs McGregor
In the promotion for his last fight against Denis Siver, Conor McGregor caused a storm of controversy. For once, it wasn’t anything he did or said.
An American TV station discussing the NFL Playoffs turned their attention momentarily to the UFC sensation and, somewhat unfortunately, mentioned him in the same breath as Muhammad Ali.
Social media exploded in a haze of astonishment and anger comparing him to the incomparable. It hadn’t been the first time it had happened, either. Of course, Ali was more than just a charismatic boxing champion. He was a cultural icon; a beacon of hope and independence for millions around the world. He remains untouchable to some; a deity.
With each passing fight, though, the cards are starting to stack up in McGregor’s favour regarding some of the parallels between the two. Remember the Dubliner has only begun his ascent to superstardom. Some would argue, in terms of publicity, he has already eclipsed everyone else in his sport.
From his first UFC fight against Marcus Brimmage back in April 2013, right through to his most recent demolition of Siver in Boston, the buzz has grown into an unstoppable freight train of pandemonium that not even president, Dana White, can control.
Every fight has gone to a new level of hype with Aldo-McGregor hitting the stratosphere. Yesterday’s World Tour promotion of his clash with the undisputed Featherweight champion came to its final stop and what a stop it was.
Rio, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston, Vancouver, Calgary, New York, London had all come and gone as McGregor needled Aldo from one city to the next. Dublin would eclipse them all as thousands packed into the Convention Centre to welcome their star home.
Despite some ‘fans’ shaming themselves with disgraceful, disrespectful remarks towards Aldo in the Q&A session, the event surely underlines how much of a star McGregor has become. Not just in his native country but across Europe and the US. UFC Boston broke a number of the sports’ pay-per-view records. UFC 189 will smash those again.
Walk The Walk
He is beginning to transcend the sport in the same way Ali did by force of personality. He isn’t quite as eloquent, granted, but does possess a sharp wit, a sharper dress sense and the ability to out-psyche his opponents before they’ve even entered the octagon.
The Lucan native is far from all bluster, though. Whoever has been put in front of him has been dismantled within minutes. Coached by John Kavanagh, an equally ultra-confident character, McGregor is freakishly talented.
His ground game is as good as his stand-up with outstanding balance and huge power behind his punches.
If he can talk the talk, he can most definitely walk the walk.
Many in and out of the sport don’t like him, though. His brash, trash-talking showmanship aren’t for some but it is important to understand that while he is a naturally confident character, this is all just a game to him: he is playing the villain to sell fights. He is disrespecting his opponents to cause a scene; to make a spectacle.
For all his talents, Ali resorted to the same tactics. We look back on them now in revelry. We wonder at how brilliant he was. But at the time, though, many didn’t like him, either.
Aldo hasn’t been defeated in a decade. He is pound-for-pound one of the greatest MMA fighters ever. Should McGregor overcome the Brazilian, he will cement his legacy as one of the sports’ finest in just over two years in the game.
He is already a remarkable talent and years from now, comparisons with Ali might not seem as naïve they do now.