Man at His Best

The Real Winner Of UFC 196

Conor McGregor may have lost but he still came out on top.

BY PATRICK CHEW | Mar 7, 2016 | Fitness & Health

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“We’re not just here to take part—we’re here to take over.” Those were Conor McGregor’s words when he defeated Diego Brandão in Dublin back in July 2014, words that pretty much encapsulate his egotistical, overbearing and ill-tempered attitude in the UFC.

After knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds (Aldo’s first defeat in 10 years) last December to become the UFC featherweight champion, McGregor’s snide remarks and cocksure banter moved up a notch as he set his sights on higher weight divisions. He accepted a fight far above his 145lbs weight class to take on Nate Diaz at 170lbs—a decision he immediately regretted the moment Diaz’s fists landed on his jaw and chin yesterday, knocking him backwards with utter shock filling his face. 

McGregor fell, exposed his back and, in no time at all, tapped out to Diaz’s rear naked choke. In his post-match interview, McGregor spoke of his inefficient use of energy (a spinning kick that came nowhere close to Diaz that seemed to have winded him more than anything else) that cost him the match. But the harsh truth is that it was his reckless ambition and arrogance that truly did him in.

“I’m heartbroken,” McGregor said. 

After his defeat, there was no sign of McGregor’s superstar mentality that we’ve all grown so used to. He didn’t speak of himself as a lion slaughtering a gazelle; no sense of invincibility or talk about being UFC’s number one money-maker. 

He became uncharacteristically humble, praised his opponent, analysed his mistakes and, ultimately, vowed to come back—a post-match interview that was infinitely more perceptive than Diaz’s, which, once again, proved that “motherfucker” is indeed the Californian’s favourite word. 

The man who left The Octagon in defeat yesterday may have walked away with a handsome payout of USD1 million (twice more than Diaz) but more importantly, McGregor left with reminder of what an inflated sense of self-importance can do to a person. 

He’s no longer invincible but he has finally come back down to Earth after spending too much time with his head in the clouds and will undoubtedly be back with his feet firmly on the ground—a comeback that will prove to be a far more compelling and convincing story than his initial whirlwind rise to fame.