McGregor, the mirror and the pitfalls of sporting narcissism

Robin Locksley Roar Rookie

By , Robin Locksley is a Roar Rookie

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    In the lead up to the McGregor versus Mayweather superfight there were many lists of reasons why McGregor could win.

    But for all those attributes, sport asks questions and commands a person to take a good hard look at themselves. When that happened, a glaring fragility was on show for the world to see.

    Narcissism. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to recognise it in McGregor. From the preoccupation with image to the comically exaggerated palms-backwards, elbows-out swagger he adopted as he entered the ring, Macgregor is surrounded by layer upon layer of narcissistic defence.

    Here is a man who despite his façade is clearly not entirely comfortable with what he brings to the table. That’s not to say it hasn’t worked for him in some respects, or that his opponent was a stranger to self-aggrandisement.

    There are about 300 million reasons why that’s not true. But his fear of facing his own limitations also directly led him to refuse to adapt to pure boxing.

    As his jilted former sparring partner, the aptly named Malignelli noted, “He doesn’t want to be told that, you know, he needs to make progress or he needs to change certain things. Whatever he’s doing he just wants to be told how great he’s doing.” One of the key things he refused to change was his stance.

    Floyd Mayweather Conor McGregor Boxing 2017

    (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    MMA fighters stand side-on to reduce the chance of being taken down to the ground. Boxers hold no such fears. Obviously standing side-on has some advantages. Like a fencer you get to advance your weapon in front of your target by the length of your shoulder.

    So McGregor had no problem touching Mayweather during the initial three-round evaluation period. Those jabs would have had an impact with MMA gloves. However with eight oz gloves, just touching Mayweather was all he could do. To hurt Mayweather with his jab he would have needed to use the power that can only be generated from a square-on boxing stance, powering punches from his legs and butt.

    That wasn’t the only problem with the side-on stance though. It also sapped his endurance.

    It wasn’t just about 25 minutes of MMA against 36 minutes of boxing. McGregor was showing signs of exhaustion by the fourth round. His right arm, that had started the fight so far forward, was a sitting duck for what he himself later described as Mayweather’s “good strong parry on his lead hand.”

    Soon his lower half was exhausted as well. Trying to match Mayweather’s smooth dancing with tense side-on stepping was a recipe for fried legs. Although he later suggested that he could have recovered, he was cooked.

    A question was answered but it wasn’t the question of whether a top MMA fighter could become a boxer. We saw what happens sport delivers a personality test.