All Eyes on Me: Reflections on the Conor McGregor Debacle

By Alexander Tsao Apr 6, 2018

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

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In the aftermath of the doomed UFC 223 (now available on Amazon Prime) media day on Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, it has become clear that Conor McGregor just won’t let the spotlight shine outside of his vicinity. During the chaos-filled encounter between McGregor, his team, a charter bus and a number of fellow fighters, McGregor demonstrated once again that he embodies the “thug life” persona made famous by Tupac Shakur and the grandiose personality behind it, summed up by the “all eyes on me” motto. Now that he has our attention, what is he trying to show us?

Since McGregor won the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight strap at UFC 205 on Nov. 12, 2016, he has not stepped foot back inside the Octagon or made it known to the public when he plans to do so again. As a result, the UFC held an interim championship bout between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee, which Ferguson won by third-round submission. Apparently, that move didn’t ruffle McGregor enough for him to execute plans to divert attention back to him, plans otherwise known as promotional hara-kari. However, leading up to UFC 223, where the planned on crowning an undisputed champion in his absence, McGregor couldn’t hold back any longer and lashed out with a level of theatrics the likes of which even World Wrestling Entertainment would have been proud.

“Mystic Mac” has a knack for self-promotion. We’ve witnessed it his entire career, and his brash talk has even encouraged other fighters to negotiate harder for better compensation, matchups and treatment from the UFC. However, at some point, graceful self-promotion gives way to shameless self-promotion, and once that happens, the positive results of making your worth known become severely overshadowed by the negative ramifications of ill-advised attention-seeking and sheer reckless behavior. Accordingly, some of the fallout from McGregor’s UFC 223 Media Day antics includes getting teammate Artem Lobov pulled from his scheduled fight with Alex Caceres, sending Michael Chiesa to the hospital with cuts that required medical attention and leaving Ray Borg with glass shards in his eye; Chiesa and Borg saw their bouts axed as a result. That means no fewer than three fights were canceled two days before a major pay-per-view event, with six fighters not receiving the compensation they need in order to pay for training camps that were already completed. When your self-promotion harms other fighters physically and their families financially, that’s shameless.

Mr. McGregor, you know how to entertain us. You are still the biggest box-office draw in MMA. No discussion about the UFC lightweight division can be had without mentioning your name. You no longer need to pursue notoriety and recognition at all costs. We want to see you defend your throne at some point, and the best means of self-promotion involves taking on a worthy opponent and exiting the cage with your hand raised. We look forward to seeing you create drama inside the cage, where it belongs. Leave the over-the-top theatrics to our friends in the sports entertainment industry.

Based in Los Angeles, Alexander Tsao is a longtime student of the martial arts and an avid fan of combat sports. He currently trains out of Golden State Jiu-Jitsu in Torrance, California, under Professor Dane Molina. Professionally, he is an attorney at Venerable Injury Law, where his practice focuses on the representation of professional and amateur athletes, as well as everyday athletes, involved in motor vehicle, bicycle, mass transit, ride-sharing and pedestrian accidents.

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