Conor McGregor, love him or hate, is usually the name on the tip of every MMA fan's tongue. The featherweight champ has pretty much single-handedly dragged the UFC to the pinnacle of sports entertainment. The worlds media has descended upon the promotion as it hits the mainstream, continually finding new mass markets and audiences.
Of course, not everyone is a fan of the loudmouth Irishman, and I'm not just talking fans of the sport. McGregor has ruffled quite a few feathers in his short yet illustrious UFC career to date, most recently The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 winner Warley Alves. Not exactly seeing eye to eye with McGregor, Alves didn't hold back with his words when asked by Combate his thoughts on the fighter.
"Money is good, yes, but my mom made me a man, not a whore. I'm a man, so I don't sell out. I am what I am and that's the way I live. I want to work and be paid for it, of course. I want to make $3 or $4 million someday, too, but I'm not here for the money, I'm here to fight."
You'd think that fighters within the promotion would be thankful for this newfound fame, which in turn generates further revenue, right? Wrong.
On the surface this may seem like an over the top, hyperbolic statement from the rising welterweight, but what Alves is echoing is a feeling that is starting to ripple throughout the promotion with various fighters starting to become disenfranchised by the featherweight champion.
But are fighters justified in criticizing Conor McGregor's recent antics?
Sure he's loud-talking, he's brash and he can be disrespectful but at the end of the day McGregor does all of this for the fights. He's worked tirelessly in the last three years promoting fights, fulfilling media obligations and helping shape the UFC as the brand we've come to know. Yet, many fighters hate him for it. They hate the personality he exudes on TV and through his social media accounts. Many now view the Irishman as caring solely about money, something he himself admits to loving, yet overlook his career to date. Aside from the devastating loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196, McGregor already has victories over Jose Aldo, Dennis Siver, Dustin Poirier, Diego Brandao, Max Holloway and Marcus Bridge at the tender age of 27.
Yet still fighters hate him. Especially in Brazil, which comes as no surprise. Of course, I'm not defending some his more erratic actions. Sometimes the native of Dublin, Ireland does overstep the mark. His winners speech at the MMA awards was a particular highlight where I personally felt he overstepped the mark for the sole purpose of shock value. It was then, following his defeat to Diaz, that a lot of fighters started to turn on the Irishman, letting their true feelings be known across twitter.
Conor McGregor started well with his marketing, he talks a lot and is a great fighter, we can't deny that, but I think he crossed the line. It's too much now. He said he will fight anyone, but that's not how things work in our world. Fighters have a code, a law, and you have to respect everybody. He lost this respect, talked about me at the MMA Awards, and he talked s--t at the wrong person. I won't stay quiet and just listen.
Fighters don't like Conor McGregor. Everybody likes watching him fight because he does a good marketing, but I won't change who I am because of money. Everybody likes money, but there’s a limit. Money isn't everything. He sold his soul - and I'm saying soul so I don't say other things [laughs]. I don't think that's cool. He sold his soul. It was about time someone would shut him up.
Of course, a lot of this could be put down to sour grapes. McGregor was a late comer to the UFC with his debut taking place in 2013. Since then, the "Notorious" one has seen a meteoric rise in his fighting reputation and worldwide fame. Going from being dependent on the state welfare system in Ireland to get by, to suddenly finding yourself being offered millions of dollars would definitely shape who you are as a person. Thus, can we really blame him for his cocky, confident and outlandish behavior?
Not everyone is a hater, though. The UFC roster also contains a lot of fighters who appreciate the antics of McGregor and respect him as a fighter and a man. McGregor has done a lot for the UFC and the sport of MMA as a whole. Mainstream media outlets are paying attention to the UFC, which in turns out branches into the world of MMA and combat sports.
The UFC has become a global phenomenon in the last two years, and McGregor is a large part as to why that has happened.
It's undeniable that Conor McGregor is an incredible athlete. To become the 145-pound champion of the UFC, he had to face one of the promotions greatest champions, Jose Aldo. Previously unbeaten in 10 years, McGregor shot him down in 13 seconds, cementing his name in the history books of the fighting game. No matter who he is fighting, it's a guarantee that McGregor will provide the entertainment. Whether it's the pre-fight media obligations or his ability inside the Octagon, "Mystic Mac" always puts on a show and at the end of the day he makes the company a s--t ton of money.
With the backing of his team, coach and millions of fans around the world, expect to see McGregor back in that Octagon soon. Whether fighters love him or hate him, McGregor has truly became the "Notorious" one.
But what do you think? Is his outlandish behavior overshadowing his ability as a fighter? Has Conor McGregor sold his soul for money, caring only about the Hollywood life and paycheck? Or do you think McGregor is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Weigh in below in the comment section.