Conor McGregor. You may or may not watch MMA, but you sure as hell know who this guy is. Polarizing is an overused word to describe him, but it is 100% accurate in this case. Everyone has an opinion of Conor. You might love him and his trash talk, think he is invincible and the G.O.A.T., good for the sport of MMA, or simply admire his raw talent and skill. You might have the utmost hatred for his arrogance and disrespectful attitude, his ability to win and prove his trash talk correct, or simply think he is not as good as he claims. Either way, you have an opinion of this man and one thing is for certain – since Conor burst onto the scene, the UFC has definitely become “The McGregor Show”.
A brief background on Conor McGregor. He is an extremely popular Irish MMA fighter with immense kickboxing skills, a larger than life personality, and a 20-2 record (His last loss was about 5 years ago). He is also the most powerful man in MMA at this moment. The only person comparable in this regard to him is a woman (Ronda Rousey). By this I don’t mean he is the best or most skilled fighter in the UFC. I quite literally mean he holds more power than any other fighter in the UFC.
Power is defined as: The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
I just recently finished reading a Robert Greene classic and favorite of some of the most successful and powerful people on the planet, “The 48 Laws of Power”. This has my mind highly attuned to look for instances of people using power, consciously or unconsciously, and I find it everywhere. I observe myself making power moves sometimes without even noticing, simply by my experienced-guided intuition, and observe others attempting to exert power over the circumstances and people around them. Power controls everything around us and the people who understand and use it best are also the ones who hide it best. Conor McGregor is one of these people. I am not saying he has read the book, but I am also not saying he hasn’t. Whether or not he has is irrelevant, he applies the laws better than the majority of people in the world and definitely better than anyone else competing in professional MMA at the moment.
Now let’s delve into some of the laws he has mastered.
Law 6: Court Attention At All Cost
Conor McGregor understands that bad publicity is better than no publicity. This is probably the #1 attribute contributing to his power and one of his greatest talents. He understands that he serves a “master” (Dana White/UFC) and by courting attention better than anyone out there, he becomes more valuable to his master than any other fighter. He does this through spectacular trash talking, a scandalous and superhuman personality, and dominant, showy performances that keep his name in the limelight at all times. He breaks records for UFC gates and fills his master’s pockets with cash. In return he receives preferential treatment, premature title shots, and the ability to get away with insane amounts of disrespectful behavior.
Law 17: Keep Others In Suspended Terror: Cultivate An Air Of Unpredictability
Humans are creatures of control who try to predict and find patterns in everything and everyone around them. No one can predict what Conor McGregor will say or do next. He is talking trash one minute and being respectful the next. In the middle of a press conference, he will stand up and steal the champion’s (Aldo) title belt. Other fighters are unable to control and adapt to Conor’s chaotic personality and are constantly thrown off balance. This gets into their head and cultivates a literal attitude of terror.
Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces
Conor McGregor has decent grappling skills. He is not a one-dimensional fighter. He does, however, understand the art and power of concentrating his forces in one area. Conor does one thing really well and he sticks to it relentlessly. He moves forward constantly, putting immense pressure on his opponent, and relies on pinpoint accurate striking, seemingly unstoppable endurance, and an iron chin. When Chad Mendes did his best to disrupt this game plan through takedowns and lateral movement, Conor stayed relaxed and constantly moved toward what he was good at until he finished the fight.
Law 28: Enter Action With Boldness
The power of audacity and boldness has been proven throughout history over and over again. Conquistadores in Latin America burning their ships behind them. 6 unarmed German men capturing the entire capital city of Belgrade. Conor McGregor betting 3 million on his ability to put out Chad Mendes in the first 2 rounds of their fight. How can you lose when your entire financial freedom is at stake? This complete confidence and boldness in his ability to win his fight is reminiscent of Muhammad Ali and shakes every opponent that stands across the octagon from him.
Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
This is a favorite power tactic of mine and another UFC great: Anderson Silva. Him and Conor McGregor are both masters of this technique. They fight so completely relaxed and apparently distracted, taunting with disregard for their opponent that it seems they are not even trying at all. Even when Conor was getting elbowed in the face and cut open, he seemed unfazed, almost as if was still winning the fight. This fools everybody, including his opponent, into thinking that he is capable of much more. How much does it shake you when you are throwing your 100% effort at your opponent and he is yawning at you? You give 120% and exhaust yourself which was Chad’s exact mistake. In reality, both Conor and Anderson are trying their best at all times, they just understand the power of appearing effortless.
Law 43: Work On The Hearts And Minds Of Others
One of the most powerful laws in Robert Greene’s arsenal. Logic, coercion, facts, rationality. These things have no power over men. People cannot be convinced, persuaded, or forced into your influence. They must want to do what you want them to do. They must be seduced. Conor McGregor is an expert in this regard. He intensely appeals to people’s weakness – emotion. In the fans of the UFC, he stirs up anger and disgust with his cocky and disrespectful words. The result? People come in droves to watch him get humbled. He also stirs up plenty of admiration for his bravado and integrity. The result? People come in droves to watch him dominate his opponents. To his opponents? Conor does the same. An emotional man is easy to predict and defeat. If Mendes remained calm, he would have had a great chance of defeating Conor McGregor and earning UFC gold. Unfortunately for him, Conor got him right in the feels.
Conor McGregor is the most powerful man in the UFC and in the sport of MMA. He has mastered the laws of power and leverages them to disrupt and defeat his opponents, secure lucrative paydays, and keep his name in our minds at all times. I am sure he is completely conscious and deliberate with many of his power moves and that he also unconsciously is, through previous experience, making other of his power moves.
Robert Greene’s landmark book is a great read and, while it may seem abstract or inapplicable, it is important to recognize power so that we can use it if the situation comes up and arm ourselves against it when it is used toward us. The book has given me great perspective on power, especially in MMA, and how Conor McGregor has come so far, so fast. I could also delve into many transgressions of the 48 laws that other MMA fighters are making that is deducting from their power, but that is a post for another day.
And now, for the most important question? Aldo or McGregor. UFC 194. Who will win?
I believe if they had fought originally at UFC 189, McGregor was sufficiently in Aldo’s head with his power moves and games that he definitely would have emerged victorious. Now I believe Conor is not in Aldo’s head as much as he was previously. If Aldo can stay calm and in control, I believe he has a great chance of finishing Conor in the first 3 rounds. If Conor outlasts him to the later rounds, he has a better chance of finishing Aldo. My final prediction? Conor by TKO in the 4th round.
“The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”