“We’re here to take over” — Sinéad O’Connor
My stream tunes in just in time to see one bearded man land a knee to the face of another not so bearded man and send him sprawling to the floor. Bearded man then proceeds to lay into not so bearded man who is now seemingly unconscious on the scarlet stained surface of the octagon. The referee puts a stop to the fight and the bearded man wheels away in celebration like some victorious viking berserker, the blood lust still in his eyes.
But this wasn’t Conor McGregor, this was Jeremy Stephens and unbeknownst to me at the time there was still another 2 hours to go until the McGregor fight. I had never actually watched UFC before so I thought I would tune in and try and understand just why Gillette’s sales collapsed in Ireland over the past 12 months.
A bald man who I have seen in videos on Facebook a few times appears and begins to ‘interview’ the winner. “I love America!” blurts out Jeremy, who apparently is from Iowa, and who fails to make much sense on the mic but who is undoubtedly very very good at smashing his knee into other men’s faces at high speed.
The commercials advertise an upcoming fight between two female fighters. The impression one gets is that women’s UFC might just be as one dimensional as women’s boxing, where one woman is so much better than the rest that it renders the sport almost meaningless. The advertisers try their best to create a narrative but the whole thing smacks of WWE.
After the ads a shot of an Irish flag flashes up on the screen. ‘We’re here to take over’ emblazoned on it in big black letters. Just what exactly are we taking over? Their Irish bars or their cheapest hotel suites? Ole Ole Ole rings out during the next fight which rapidly turns from a poor boxing match into an absolute bloodbath. I must admit that the adrenaline does start to flow when the kicks come out. The match ends when one competitor succeeds in completely smashing the other’s nose, blood skites out onto the floor, his cartilage all but a memory. One wonders what kind of alzheimers levels we are going to see when these guys hit their fifties.
Another interview with the bald man follows and once again the interviewee is amazingly good at not being able to answer simple questions. It is easy to see why McGregor is needed by the UFC management. He can string several sentences together.
SINEAD O CONNOR (!) rises out the mists of time and more literal ones that add a mystical celtic/lucky charms touch to proceedings with a rendition of The Foggy Dew that heralds McGregor’s arrival to the arena. Mendes, his opponent comes out to some sort of country western theme, he looks small and boring. Ken Early wrote something very interesting about the attractiveness of Conor McGregor and its very true. He put it well when he wrote: “In the physical sense at least, McGregor is his generation’s ideal man.”
Some of the quotes from the commentators are quite interesting: “the fighting face of a nation” “the story of this fight is about Ireland” He “defines them as a nation”. Not too long ago this same ‘fighting’ spirit led to us being barred from bars in both hemispheres. Thank you Mr.McGregor for placing our national image in a time machine.
The fight begins and Mendes repeatedly tries to get McGregor onto the ground, it happens a lot and McGregor seems to take a lot of of elbows to the face. However, in round 2 he wriggles his way out of the hold on the ground, throws two punches and its all over. In the previous fight the two guys had gone nuclear on each other but this time round a solid left hook from the walking stereotype downs Mendes and thats a wrap.
And that was it. Fantastically underwhelming. It must be said that McGregor really can take a punch. That ego must have some sort of physical presence because those elbows were raining down on him. I’m not sure where I stand on UFC after watching tonights event, I am obviously biased against McGregor due to my dislike of him but at times he did seem like a genuinely top top sportsman tonight. That last punch though, there is a lingering sense that it was just a bit too easy. The banality of all the other fighters (Mendes showed personality traits akin to those of a piece of wood, the previous winners seemed challenged when asked to construct sentences) does make you wonder. How much is a winning Conor McGregor worth to the UFC?