By: Wes Austin
In recent years the UFC has increasingly become popular across the world. The UFC is the highest level of Mixed Martial Arts and is known for its brutal nature. A UFC fight consists of two guys fighting in an octagon cage, with little padding over their fist, where almost anything goes. There’s no wonder why this sport has become so popular.
Outside of the ring there’s another part of the UFC that adds to its must see entertainment. Trash talking has been a big part of combat sports, which was popularized by Muhammad Ali.
Trash talking is a way to get into your opponents head and also is great entertainment for the fans. Like boxing, the UFC is full of many trash talkers; most notably “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. Undefeated in the flyweight division, McGregor clearly has the skill to back up his mouth; however, his mouth finally got him in trouble in UFC 196.
Recently McGregor has become the face of the UFC. He’s one of the most entertaining fighters to watch because he has the skillset to crumble his opponents in a matter of seconds. Not only does McGregor have elite MMA talent, he has the trash talk to go with it.
McGregor’s press conferences, interviews, and weigh-ins before the fights have become almost as entertaining as his fights. He says the most outlandish things and leaves his opponents at the podium looking foolish. During interviews McGregor draws laughs from the press as he bashes his opponents with an abundance of trash talk. When addressing his opponent Dustin Poirier, McGregor said, “He’s a quiet, little hillbilly from the back arse of nowhere. His cousin is probably named Cletus.” He’s also said, “These custom-made suits aren’t cheap. This solid gold pocket watch, three people died making this watch. I need to put people away. I need those big fights. I’m going to end up in debt pretty fast.” Quotes like this have won people over and have helped add to McGregor’s massive fan base. The media and the fans feed off of McGregor’s energy and he feeds off of them. Conor McGregor’s last couple of fights and trash talking before the fight have made him seem like he is invincible to fans and even himself.
For UFC 196 McGregor was scheduled to fight Rafael dos Anjos, but because of a broken foot dos Anjos had to drop out of the fight. This left the president of the UFC, Dana White, and McGregor to find someone for the main event that was scheduled in just two weeks. After much thought, Dana White and McGregor decided that he would fight Nate Diaz. This came as surprise to many because Diaz is out of McGregor’s weight class. McGregor fights at 145 pounds and Diaz fights at 170 pounds. McGregor put on 20 pounds in only two weeks in order to fight Diaz. This is unheard of in UFC. McGregor was doing something that no other UFC fighters dared to do and would later find out why no fighters attempt this. I believe that McGregor’s trash talk and his persona that he has built up in his last couple of fights led him to make a rash decision in accepting this fight. By taking a look into the size of McGregor’s previous opponents I will make it apparent that McGregor was in over his head by jumping to 170 to fight a bigger Nate Diaz.McGregor’s feeling of invincibility caused him to lose in UFC 196 because of a 20 pound jump in weight classes.
Starting in 2014 McGregor began to tear through the flyweight division with a streak of knockouts. Between 2014 and 2015 McGregor totaled 5 knockouts all within the first 2 rounds of each fight. All but one of McGregor’s wins in the UFC have ended due to TKO or KO and this is credited to his boxing background. A common factor in all of these fights is that all of McGregor’s opponents were smaller than him or almost equal to him in size. While fighting in flyweight McGregor was 5’9”, 145 lbs and had a 74” reach. The first fight to start McGregor’s knockout streak was against Diego Brandao that stands at 5’7”, weighs 145 lbs, and has a reach of 70. McGregor knocked out Brandao as time wound down in the first round. On September 27, 2014 McGregor continued the KO streak against Dustin Poirier who is 5’9” 145 pounds with a 72 inch reach. McGregor finished Poirier with a knockout midway through the first round. To extend his knockout streak into 2015, on January 18 McGregor knocked out Dennis Siver in the second round. Siver stands at 5’7” 145 pounds with a 70 inch reach. On July 11, 2015, Conor McGregor knocked out Chad Mendes just before the third round. This was McGregor’s smallest opponent during his knockout streak as Mendes only stood at 5’6”, with a 66 inch reach and weighed 145 pounds. On December 12, 2015, Conor McGregor made history against Jose Aldo. Aldo only had one loss on his record at the time. He weighed 145, was 5’7” and had a 70 inch reach. A lot of trash talking led up to this fight. McGregor said things like,
“The man is running scared. I cannot hold a grudge toward him, I would not want to face me either,” and “I told him, everything’s going to be ay-okay. It will be over before you know it, just please show up December 12th. I don’t want to scare him anymore.”
“The Notorious” Conor McGregor backed his mouth up by knocking out Aldo in a record breaking 13 seconds.
McGregor’s remarkable tear through the flyweight division led him to be the face of the UFC. He was the best fighter and also the most entertaining one. I think that this rise to fame fueled his ego and led him to think irrationally going into UFC 196. He gave himself two weeks to put on 20 pounds to fight Nate Diaz. McGregor saw it as no big deal and went about it as he does with all of his other fights, by trash talking. Diaz who is known to talk trash looked foolish as he looked for the right words to say to McGregor. Surprisingly, Nate Diaz went on to only answer press conference and interview questions with short answers. Although Diaz didn’t excel in trash talking for this fight, he did make a good point. Diaz repeatedly said “you knocked out a bunch of midgets.” Compared to Diaz the guys McGregor knocked out were much smaller. McGregor seemed unfazed as he said “the only approach I changed was I dug the grave a little bit wider… a little bit longer for Nate’s skinny, fat, long body.”
On March 5, 2016 McGregor came into the fight confident as always. He began the fight in normal McGregor form by coming out and landing good shots to the face of Diaz. He did it all in his signature style as he taunted Diaz while he hit him. McGregor landed many punches on Diaz and was in complete control of the fight. There was no doubt McGregor won the first round but it was apparent that this fight was different. Although McGregor landed many punches to Diaz’ face, the punches did not seem to effect Diaz. McGregor may have put on 20 pounds but he did not have the power of a 170 pound fighter because he put the weight on in only two weeks. If Diaz was a flyweight at 145, there is no doubt in my mind McGregor would have made an example out of him and knocked him out in the first round. But because this was a welterweight fight McGregor’s normal tactics didn’t work. He was gassed during the second round because of all the punches he threw at Diaz. Usually he would have knocked the guy out by now and would not have to worry about having energy for the second round but because this was a welterweight fight, he could not knock Diaz down. It took Diaz a few good punches to McGregor’s face in the second round to daze him. Diaz began to take it to McGregor and out of desperation McGregor tried to take Diaz to the ground where Diaz would get him in a rear-naked choke and defeat McGregor by submission.
McGregor has a great streak going in the flyweight division and is still the face of the UFC. His success in the flyweight division along with his ego led him into a fight he had no business accepting. Not only was it a bad move for McGregor but it was a bad move for the UFC. After Ronda Rousey’s loss, McGregor was the remaining big story of the UFC. For the UFC to put their flyweight star against a mediocre welterweight was an idiotic move and was bad for business. Their best fighter, and main attraction just lost to a middle of the pack welterweight fighter. Jumping up 20 pounds in 2 weeks was never done for a reason and McGregor found out the hard way. When McGregor’s opponents are his size he is untouchable. McGregor has yet to lose a flyweight fight in the UFC. The flyweights were all his size or smaller and he dominated the division. He arguably has the best skillset in the UFC. He has a better skillset than Diaz, but to jump up 20 pounds to the welterweight division in 2 weeks was a rash decision. His loss in UFC 196 was brought on by his hubris. I believe “The Notorious” Conor McGregor’s success, big mouth and ego led him to accept a fight against a much bigger opponent in Nate Diaz, causing him to come into UFC 196 way over his head.