McGregor, the mirror and the pitfalls of sporting narcissism

Robin Locksley Roar Rookie

By Robin Locksley, Robin Locksley is a Roar Rookie

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11 Have your say

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • August 29th 2017 @ 2:20pm
      Max said | August 29th 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

      What you suggest is his biggest weakness is also his greatest strength.

      • August 29th 2017 @ 9:36pm
        Robin Locksley said | August 29th 2017 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

        I completely agree Max. This fight happened as a result of McGregor’s personality, not in spite of it. While he lost the bout, it was for him in many ways a resounding success.

        • Roar Pro

          August 29th 2017 @ 10:57pm
          Max Willis said | August 29th 2017 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

          agreed, i loved your analysis of the mechanics of the fight rather than the dribble in the Herald Sun about the ‘vile brutality’ and ‘bloodythursty fans’. Very refreshing!

    • August 29th 2017 @ 11:25pm
      BrainsTrust said | August 29th 2017 @ 11:25pm | ! Report

      When you say 25 minutes, you do know thats only for certain big bouts usually its only a max of 3 rounds of 5 minutes each.
      McGregor has had one bout of 25 minutes, where the other guy was even more exhausted than him and it looked in slow motion.
      The only other long fight was 15 minutes. The rest all finished before the 2nd round most ended in the first.
      McGregor did he realty bother putting the extra fitness work in that he needed, doesn;t look like it.
      If you look at Mundine, even though he looked pretty ordinary when started his boxing his fitness was excellent and superior to the bum opponents he got rather than his boxing.
      The other thing is McGregor didn’t get a boxing coach or trainer.
      Maybe his plan was to impress by not going down easily which he did, but he would have impressed a lot more if he wasn’t spent so quickly.
      Compared to the Danny Green Briggs or Tyson McNeely farces this was not remotely a farce,
      What is McGregors plan maybe he is looking for an acting career..

      • August 30th 2017 @ 9:35pm
        Robin Locksley said | August 30th 2017 @ 9:35pm | ! Report

        Absolutely BrainsTrust, one of the intriguing questions of this fight was how well general endurance work could compensate for specific work. We saw that the final product fell short and are left speculating about its components. As for the future that you suggest, his star has risen to the point where it may indeed be the perfect time for his management to organise a cameo on Game of Thrones where he submits a dragon. Notoriety is addictive.

    • August 30th 2017 @ 12:21am said | August 30th 2017 @ 12:21am | ! Report

      you dont have a background in combat sports

      combat sports that employ kic.ks use a
      square on shoulders facing the opponent
      in boxing the lead foot is turned slightly inwards rotating the shoulder to
      towards the opponent to extend the range of the jab

      the best way to avoid a takedown is to lower your center of gravity and sprawl more about body position and a good base

      • August 30th 2017 @ 10:05pm
        Robin Locksley said | August 30th 2017 @ 10:05pm | ! Report

        Good to hear different thoughts and one of the great things about combat sport is that there is room for a variety of approaches and nothing is unequivocally wrong (apart from your initial assertion!) Whether choosing to sprawl or defend a single, any technique or approach bears strengths and weaknesses. Such is the joy of the concept of MMA and the value of this particular clash of codes.

    • August 30th 2017 @ 10:09pm
      couldabeenacontender said | August 30th 2017 @ 10:09pm | ! Report

      I think there is more to it than this. He is obviously extremely fit, but inexperience also played a part here. It doesn’t matter what you do or how fit you are, at some stage you are likely to hit the wall. It happens to boxers at all levels. There are ways to get through this and various ways to stay in the contest until you recover a bit, but it obviously involves great discipline and will (experience also helps). This is what Mcgregor appeared to be lacking. He simply ran out of options gave up the fight and could no longer protect himself. Claiming the ref stopped it early seems disingenuous. If you don’t want that to happen, you have to help him out by at least trying to protect yourself.

      His corner told him what to do before that last round started, which he seemed to ignore. Perhaps it outlines the differences between being used to a larger octagon compared to the smaller boxing ring? In the end it didn’t matter anyway, if the ref was convinced he was at least trying to protect himself and let it continue it would have been a genuine ko shortly after.

      Kudos to Mayweather who said all along he would (uncharacteristically) keep moving forward at Mcgregor knowing he would wear a few, to make it an interesting fight for the fans. He did exactly that. Otherwise we might have seen a very boring fight. That the MMA knock out specialist simply never had anything that remotely worried a far smaller Mayweather power wise (apart from what appeared to be one groin punch) highlights the differences between the sports at this level. Which isn’t to denigrate MMA fighters, they have to specialize in many areas and are great at what they do. Hope there are no more of these novelty bouts though.

    • September 2nd 2017 @ 10:00pm
      DavSA said | September 2nd 2017 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

      The fight was a mockery of sport.

      • Roar Rookie

        September 3rd 2017 @ 12:31am
        Drew Lawrence said | September 3rd 2017 @ 12:31am | ! Report

        how? it was a competitive fight that went a hell of a lot better than people expected. Mayweather v Pacquaio was a far worse farce.

    • September 4th 2017 @ 12:51pm
      couldabeenacontender said | September 4th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      That was because of Mayweather though, who made it an interesting spectacle. He said all along he wasn’t going to “outbox” McGregor, but instead make it a fight for the fans. When was the last time you saw Mayweather flat footedly marching forward all fight and even just standing there letting his opponent unload on him? No defensive game or ring craft needed in this one. He worked out from round 1 that McGregor didn’t have the punching power to really worry him. He was asked why he didn’t at least cut the ring off on McGregor, but apparently he thought that would have made the fight much shorter which he didn’t want. This was more about ensuring that “Mayweather Promotions” provided a good product, than being a serious fight. How does an extremely well paid full time athlete run out of puff from round 4? There is a good vid of this fight from someone from the crowd which makes it look very obvious what little ability McGregor really has. As if the big Mayweather grin in between rounds, winking to people in the crowd mid fight wasn’t enough to make it all obvious.

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