On August 26th, North America will be forced to care about boxing again when MMA superstar Conor MacGregor takes on world heavyweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a bout known as “the Money Fight.” Money and magnitude aside, the months leading up to the superfight have been nothing short of entertaining. Maybe it’s the slow summer time for sports but it seems as if every week there is a new development in the fight. Most of these developments, however, are coming from one side of the ring as the MacGregor as taken any and all opportunities to belittle his opponent.
MacGregor is known for drawing attention to his fights. TSN’s Sportscentre could have a week straight of top 10s just on MacGregor’s press conference moments. The Irishman has been fined on numerous occasions for pre-fight antics including $25,000 for an altercation with Nate Diaz prior to UFC 202. But MacGregor’s antics sell the fights as his last fight: UFC 205 set a domestic attendance record for UFC with over 20,000 fans.
Of course, when the money is on the line, Conor MacGregor still does not back down. It seems as if he has stepped onto a new level of pre-fight jabs to his opponent; belittling Mayweather in any way he can. His wardrobe choices for the touring circus-show that was the pre-fight press conferences made headlines in every city. A suit with an expletive message embroidered in it--worth about $6000—made headlines at one press conference. MacGregor also made waves on the internet by wearing the jersey of an NBA player with whom Mayweather’s wife had an affair with a few years back. During the press conferences, the challenger gets his fans to collectively yell insults at the champions, just pouring chum into the media shark tank to get more exposure for the fight.
MacGregor is admired by fans around the world for his “I’m the best and couldn’t care less” attitude. Talk to any fan of MacGregor and they will go on about how awesome his press conference antics are and how his arrogance just makes him cooler. MacGregor is not alone in this concept: as the most powerful man in the world, also gained support for doing many of the same things. People support President Donald Trump for the same reasons people support Conor MacGregor.
Now, to be clear, I am not likening Conor MacGregor to Donald Trump, there are obvious differences. MacGregor came from a humble life in Ireland and made his fortunes through hard work—without a ‘small’ loan. The fighter does admirable charity work for less-fortunate citizens who are in poverty: the very people Trump’s administration is hurting. But when the support for the two figures is looked at side by side, there are some startling similarities.
While Trump was campaigning just to become a blink on the radar of the political world, he was admired for being a ‘regular citizen’ trying to succeed in politics. He was someone unconventional to what is normally seen in the political world. Conor Macgregor is a UFC fighter who has enjoyed incredible success in the octagon and now is trying to succeed in a field which he is not known for. Ask anyone following the fight and the general consensus is: “he’s not a boxer, but it would be cool if he won anyway.” Trump wasn’t a politician, but he became one anyways. It is admiration for trying to succeed in a field where they are not expected to that gains them support. The underdog situation resonates with a lot of people; feeling like all odds are against them.
Moving onto the antics, there is no doubt that Trump and MacGregor are unconventional in their media actions. Until Trump, politicians would passive-aggressively boast about their benefits while simultaneously talking down on their opponents—but in a professional and presentable way. Until now, boxing press conferences were usually featured some entertaining trash-talk and occasionally a security appearance on-stage to calm things down. But MacGregor’s approach blows any other press conference shenanigans out of the water. From his wardrobe selection to getting the entire audience to turn against his opponent, MacGregor is really the first to personally attack his opponents directly in so many ways. Looking at the current President, a lot of what made his headlines were his personal attacks on his opponents. Just Google “Trump insults” and look at the suggestions that pop up. He gained support by being unconventional and personally attacking his opponents and turning his supporters against them which, in turn, gave him more support.
Trump and MacGregor both reshaped the realm of what we expect in their respective fields when it comes to media appearances. Any time a microphone is put in front of them, you know they are trying to get a reaction out of someone. But that is what makes must-see headlines nowadays. If you are a fan of MacGregor, you are not automatically a Trump supporter. Political views and who you choose in a fight have nothing in common. There are just some similarities that cannot go unnoticed.
Whatever does happen on August 26th in Las Vegas is sure to have the interest of many due to the attention Conor MacGregor has drawn to it. But once that bell goes off, you can be sure there are no more antics, just business.