Happy birthday Frankie, see you in December.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 16, 2019
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As many people just learned, Oct. 16 is former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion Frankie Edgar’s birthday. As is the tradition with many notable fighters under the promotion’s banner, the official UFC Twitter account sent out a standard happy birthday message to the current No. 4 ranked featherweight, one of a hokey Q&A variety. It didn’t take long, however, for another former lightweight titleholder from Ireland to respond to the birthday tweet with a simple message…
“Happy birthday Frankie, see you in December.”
Within an hour the above tweet had 1,000 retweets and over 6,000 likes. Edgar replied with a note of his own, implying to he had already agreed to a bout with the Irishman in the month of December and was waiting on UFC President Dana White to make it official. In response, “The Notorious” told White to make the fight and give his purse away to charity, before marketing his Proper 12 Whiskey by tagging the company’s official Twitter account.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, the Irishman I’m referring to is none other than Conor McGregor, and unless you haven’t been paying attention, this type of interaction on social media is not uncommon for him. Ever since the 31-year old Dubliner lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, McGregor has sat on the sidelines and called out just about any notable name in the lightweight, featherweight and welterweight divisions of the UFC. Whether its rematches against Dustin Poirier, Nate Diaz, Nurmagomedov, or calling for new matchups against Donald Cerrone and Edgar, “The Notorious” has been active on social media this past year, attempting to insert himself into potential matchup conversations with any fighter that had a buzz around his name.
Within these discussions amongst fans and media, topics of McGregor’s inactivity, out of the cage discretions and even motivation in the MMA world arise. Aside from McGregor’s fight with Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 last October, the Irish superstar has not fought inside a cage since November of 2016. In the last three years, McGregor has dealt with a myriad of legal issues, including accusations of criminal mischief, assault and sexual assault, with some of incidents resulting in charges while others are still being investigated. Between these episodes and focusing on the Proper 12 Irish Whiskey brand that he launched last year, “Mystic Mac” has left many wondering if he really wants to continue fighting.
But in the midst of all these detractors, one thing remains constant -- McGregor’s ability to shift the spotlight on himself.
Whether it’s hijacking birthday well wishes or critiquing an exceptional fighter’s performance, the former champ-champ has been successfully averting the eyes of fans away from other fighters to himself when he chooses to do so. Even though he was soundly beaten by Nurmagomedov and hasn’t won a bout since UFC 205, the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champ still has a large following of diehard fans that jump anytime he mentions the slightest hint of taking a fight. Ironically, while there are a fair amount of voices in MMA that dismiss these interactions, claiming that the 31-year-old should put up or shut up when it comes to his return to the UFC, merely acknowledging the Irish superstar’s words gives them power and keeps McGregor’s name relevant.
The MMA media isn’t exempt from this type of behavior either. While most pundits harp on McGregor’s inactivity, claiming he is nearly irrelevant in the sport at this point and fans need to stop taking his social media activity seriously, most websites that cover MMA still continually publish these same interactions as news. Following McGregor’s response to Edgar’s birthday tweet, several notable outlets have published stories about the tweet, including BloodyElbow, MMAFighting, MMAmania and more. In writing this story, I myself am adding Sherdog to that same list, as any way you interpret this piece it still shines a spotlight on the interaction.
Even though the attention he draws with these injections may indeed be lessening, so long as enough people take note, McGregor is unlikely to stop this behavior anytime soon. Selling a slew of products from whiskey, to fitness programs to the news itself, “The Notorious” is a self-made marketing machine, and the more eyes on him mean the more eyes on the brands he represents. From a business perspective it would be foolish of him not to take advantage of the fact that he can still garner the attention of thousands in 140 characters or less.
By the time this piece hits Sherdog.com, there is a chance McGregor will already have thrown his name into a potential bout with someone else. Considering several top-ranked lightweights are still looking for a dance partner, who he ends up actually in the cage with is anybody’s guess. Whether you agree with the opinions expressed here or not, if there is one thing you take away from this piece, let it be this --happy birthday, Frankie Edgar.