Conor McGregor’s ascension from trainee plumber to superstardom has been built on more than just his death-touch left hand.
It’s a big factor, of course, but MMA is awash with knockout artists, yet few have had the ability to sketch out the career McGregor has in such a short timeframe.
What has separated the Irishman from the rest is his unparalleled self belief which has berthed practically flawless pre-fight predictions.
Nothing about his career has surprised him. To the UFC lightweight champion, he’s seen it all before and his propheserical talents conceived the nickname ‘Mystic Mac’.
Aside from the defeat to Nate Diaz, McGregor has perfectly predicted five stoppages to justify the tag – Eddie Alvarez, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Dustin Poirier and Diego Brandao have all been victims of his forecast.
However, in preparation for the mega event with Floyd Mayweather, the 29-year-old has taken on a new moniker – ‘Magic Mac’.
Indeed, McGregor has transitioned from oracle to magician, constructing an illusion of victory which has fooled a mass audience.
He has come in from 10/1 to 3/1 on the betting market over the last few weeks in what is a clear indication of support on an exponential scale.
To put that in perspective, McGregor, who is making not just his professional debut but his boxing debut, has odds equivalent to the last man to face Mayweather, Andre Berto.
McGregor’s resolute oration in promising to flatten Mayweather has spellbound and charmed supporters in believing the impossible will occur in Las Vegas.
While it’s true boxing stands alone in the irony of being so fractionally followed yet massively opined, few have looked beyond McGregor’s ‘aura’ in providing the formula to unlocking the defence of a supremely gifted boxer, who in 49 fights against elite-level competition has been a ghost.
Many of the McGregor army will point to age as a deciding factor. After all, Mayweather is 11 years senior to his adversary at 40.
But on the topic of nicknames, ‘Money’ has never been hit on the money. He doesn’t have the mileage of an offensive-style fighter and even if physically he’s slowed down, mentally he’s as sharp as ever.
That’s all Mayweather needs.
He spends the first four-six rounds reading his opponent and once he’s figured them out runs away with the fight.
McGregor has approached the bout as an MMA fighter facing a boxer, rather than the pure boxer v boxer scenario and that could mean we see some unorthodox shots.
But inexperience will mean he’ll only have limited tricks at his disposal and it won’t take Mayweather long to figure him out, when McGregor’s traps fail the illusion will slip because he’ll only be able to use each set-up once.
Ultimately, he’ll be one-dimensional and that’s just from a technical standpoint, bring in the conditioning element and another hurdle is introduced.
There are just too many insurmountables and this predetermined defeat will ring truer than any of McGregor’s own prophecies.
The only semblance of doubt comes in the form of Mayweather’s victory whether it’s a mid-to-late stoppage or brutal decision.
Although the result is predestined the manner of it will be decisive for the UFC.
Indeed, the conclusion of August 2017 could yet prove to be the most catastrophic in the promotion’s history.
UFC president Dana White has spoken of his nerves leading up to Sunday’s bout and the trepidation should be palpable throughout the entire company.
In the week the UFC lost the greatest of all time and pay-per-view star in light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones to another failed drugs test, the aura of their other big asset could slip, too.
An embarrassment for McGregor will be painful and a complete recovery far from guaranteed.
When White looks at his stable on Sunday he could be left without a single cash cow to generate PPVs buys from.
He, arguably more than most, will be hoping more than magic is at play in the T-Mobile Arena.
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