Yesterday the UFC held a press conference for this Saturday night’s UFC 246 and the guests of honor were the two fighters in the main event Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor.
Yesterday’s press conference had a strange feel around it including the fact that it started on time which is not something we are used to with McGregor. He was actually in the building 20 minutes ahead of the scheduled start time, a new wrinkle in his game if you will.
There was no venomous ranting from the former 2 division champion, no berating of his opponent on the other side of the stage, a seemingly humbled McGregor was who we saw yesterday, and if I’m being honest I think for just a moment or two I missed the old McGregor show just a little bit.
Don’t Get me wrong, I appreciate the effort he made to behave like a normal human being at a press conference, with that being said, it just felt weird.
Spewing about how much he respected his opponent, making it clear that there is no bad blood, but blood will be spilled on Saturday night. Even going as far as to compliment Cowboy on his fashion sense and his beautiful python jacket that he wore at yesterday’s press event. It seemed more like a lovefest than a press conference between 2 guys who are preparing to beat the ever-living hell out of one another.
Other than a jab at the fighting style of both Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov When McGregor said they share the same ” “sniff the jockstrap” type of fighting, McGregor was as professional at the podium as we’ve ever seen!
There was one moment during this media event where I thought we might see the “real’ McGregor. One of the reporters in the crowd attempted to bring up the subject of the sexual assault cases that McGregor was involved in. The question was met with an overwhelming booing from the crowd for just trying to do his job and asking a pertinent question about something hanging over the head of McGregor. You could almost see his (McGregor’s) personality change right there in front of us, but before he could respond, UFC President Dana White jumped in the middle and said he answered those questions yesterday on ESPN. When the reporter tried once again, Dana shut him down and one of my fellow media members who was in attendance told me a UFC representative went over and immediately removed the microphone from this reporter.
White when into a “mother hen” mode if you will to protect the UFC’s biggest cash cow. I felt that this was bizarre, to say the least. We’ve seen press conferences featuring light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, (who has certainly had his share of mishaps and controversial situations during his career) where the media asked anything and everything they wanted and not once did Dana White try to change the narrative like he did yesterday with McGregor. Maybe Dana knew that if he didn’t, that McGregor would revert back to the persona that brought him to prominence, and didn’t want to let things get out of control.
I have to say that this new behavior that we saw yesterday while nice, gave me a sense of being frightened to a degree. Here was a man who has made it part of his career to do whatever he can to get into the head of his opponent pre-fight, as nobody plays the mental warfare game better than him, being nice, complimentary, and beyond respectful to his opponent Donald Cerrone, which again created a feeling of weirdness about it.
He looked to be in great shape and was obviously in good spirits yesterday, and I felt that he was focused on the task at hand. A focused McGregor as evidenced in the past, is a very dangerous McGregor inside the octagon.
Continually stating that he was in a good spot, and that he hasn’t changed one bit, even though everything he said and how he behaved painted a different picture, one is left to wonder has he actually changed and become humbled, or was yesterday his first attempt at winning an Oscar?
At the end of the day a press conference doesn’t tell us how a fight is going to go down. The press conference is for entertainment value only.
Can this new cuddly version of Conor McGregor rekindle the fighting spirit and style that catapulted him into the stratosphere as the biggest star the UFC as ever seen, or will this new attitude be detrimental to what McGregor has been in the past and is trying to accomplish today? Saturday night all of these questions will be answered.
UFC 246 takes place this Saturday night live from the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and will be available for viewing across the ESPN family of networks.
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.