Updated: October 3, 2018 11:58:32 am
Conor McGregor returns to the octagon after nearly two years to take on undefeated Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov this Saturday. The mind games though have already begun. A look at how the Irishman uses research and homework for the psychological warfare that leaves opponents defeated long before the first punch is thrown.
“The Chechen people know what I am talking about when I called (Khabib’s) father a quivering coward. Him and (Chechen leader Ramzan) Kadyrov were at a mosque together and he posted a picture of Kadyrov on his Instagram site… Kadyrov is the Chechen dictator, a crazy man, don’t get me wrong.”
While he showed up at his rambunctious best at the first press conference for fight against Nurmagomedov, taking swigs of his new line of whiskey and dropping F-bombs, McGregor also showed off his knowledge of Russian ethno-politics.
McGregor called Nurmagomedov’s father and coach Abdulmanap a “quivering coward” and his manager Ali Abdelaziz a “mad terrorist snitch.” The Irishman casually threw titbits about the politics of Chechnya, a territory in the Caucasus region of Russia that borders Khabib’s native Dagestan to the east. McGregor’s references to the Chechen strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov didn’t go unnoticed, as a Chechen minister called him “an outrageous clown.”
Conor McGregor Attended World Cup Final as Vladimir Putin's Guest https://t.co/XyVJWJ5CQ5
— TMZ (@TMZ) July 16, 2018
McGregor also used a photo with the Russian President Vladimir Putin (above) during the World Cup final and asked Nurmagomedov if he was jealous.
“Now ask yourself why I’m rocking CJ when I don’t know or give a f**k about basketball. I dribble heads off the floor. Not a ball. (sic)”
In one of the several unpleasant tactics leading up to the boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, McGregor wore an old jersey of the Golden State Warriors marked #23, the number of CJ Watson. Mayweather’s ex-girlfriend had told police that the boxer assaulted her in 2010 after finding texts between her and Watson.
“I’m sure he grew up in a circus or a fair, he’s a nice little kid. His cousin’s probably named Cletus or something.”
In the buildup to his fight with Dustin Poirier, McGregor ripped into the American’s upbringing and his weak chin. But the coup de grace was dealt backstage. “I was getting ready to walk out and I saw him and he threw this smile and pointed at me. I don’t know why but it really got to me, man. It really messed with my head,” Poirier said afterwards. “I mean I’m about to go out and fight this dude and he’s back there smiling at me?” A visibly distraught Poirier was knocked out within two minutes.
“I own this town, I own Rio de Janeiro, so for him to say that he is the king and I am the joker, if this was a different time, I would invade his favela on horseback, and would kill anyone who wasn’t fit to work, but we’re in a new time, so I’ll whoop his ass instead.”
A future hall-of-famer, Jose Aldo was ten years unbeaten when he faced McGregor. But during the months-long buildup, McGregor made the Brazilian look second-best with a verbal barrage. An incensed Aldo took the cage and got knocked out in 13 seconds, handing McGregor his first title.
“He’s going to be shooting, panicking, I’m going to be hitting him from everywhere. Sooner or later, he’s going to fall. One of those elbows, one of those shots are going to dig into that soft, sweet spot, into the temple.”
In a tactical masterstroke, McGregor acknowledged that Eddie Alvarez was the better wrestler and would go for takedowns, but also made it known that he had the counter to it. During the fight, even while his corner desperately asked him to shoot, Alvarez chose to box with the superior striker and got knocked out for his efforts. “I fought a bad fight,” Alvarez said afterwards. “The idea wasn’t to go in there and box. We didn’t wrestle enough, the idea was to go in there and wrestle, I’m not quite sure why I didn’t do that tonight and I paid the price for it.”
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