#ConorMcGregor has seen his brand grow enormously during his rise to the pinnacle of sports entertainment. The "Notorious" has become synonymous with trash talking, daring fashion choices, explosive fights, and above all, #Ireland.
Many believe that the Irishman is adored in his homeland, and although that is most certainly true for the majority of MMA fans on the "Emerald Isle," it doesn't resonate with all of them.
An athlete who is proud of his Irish heritage, and rightly so, McGregor has become a polarizing figure in Northern Ireland. There are many reasons that Conor is both loved and hated. And while opinions about McGregor occasionally drift away from sports, the overwhelming majority are due to his talent, sportsmanship, and media antics.
Conor McGregor, like sports, transcends social issues, and brings people together; McGregor is a symbol to many in Northern Ireland, and in honor of UFC 205, we bring you the voices of of the north, MMA fans offering their opinions on McGregor, and what is shaping up to be the biggest fight in mixed martial arts history.
"As a people we are fiercely patriotic both sides of the border. Everyone knows the sh!t this country has been through, but I have never seen a sportsman from this weird island of ours unite the whole island together like Conor McGregor. Win or lose, we all support him."
- Callum Grundon
"Conor McGregor is a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in slabberin'. The UFC has poured petrol on an Irish fire, and now it burns so bright it blinds his opponents. Conor McGregor is Cú Chulainn in a Lamborghini doing donuts in a car park."
- Cormac MacDiarmadá
Certainly for a lot of people in Northern Ireland, #MysticMac is seen as a hero. His dedication to his craft and determination to overcome any given obstacle makes him an inspiration for many:
"Conor is the epitome of hard work and dedication to the sport, he is the face of UFC. Hoping for another win from him this weekend."
- MJ Davey
"One of the best in the world at what he does inside the Octagon. From a promotion point of view he's probably the best in the world at hyping and selling a fight through mic work and media appearances. Only #Bisping and #Rousey are anywhere near him from the UFCs current roster in my opinion."
- Rab Hanna
"He's bleeding brilliant. The best at what he does. I only know the UFC because of Conor McGregor."
- Ewan Anderson
It's the last sentence that arguably holds the most truth for the UFC and Conor McGregor. It's no secret that the Dublin native has grown the MMA scene exponentially worldwide. The growth of his personal brand has also seen the growth of the UFC's, garnering higher pay-per-view sales, arena gates, and media coverage. For many in Northern Ireland and Ireland, Conor McGregor was their introduction to the sport.
Of course, this view can be contrasted by a few people to say the least:
- Jay Hamilton
Perhaps Peter McCully, Paul Martin, and Katriona Kirwan provide a happy medium between those who love the Irish superstar and those who don't. The sheer talent of Conor McGregor can not be overlooked, yet neither can his antics in front of the media or behavior towards his opponents. For many, it's the latter that they have an issue with.
"In my opinion, he's everything that's wrong with combat sports. He riles everyone up just so his own wallet feels the benefit. Boxers have been doing it since Ali and earlier, create a feud, then as soon as you bank the PPV money, you say how much you respect your opposition. I'm proud of him because he's one of Irelands few world class athletes, but I really dislike the man and his methods."
- Peter McCully
"I think a lot of people hate him because he comes across as cocky and arrogant. I like him because he's dedicated to his craft and works harder and fights more often than any other fighter on the roster."
- Paul Martin
"He's a special type of fighter that brings people together whether that's in loving him or hating him. Nobody can deny he's entertaining as a person and as a fighter and that's why people will continue to follow anything that he does or says."
- Katriona Kirwan
For a further in depth look at this historic event, check out the Champions UFC 205 Fanzine.