Peel back the illusion of reckless abandonment and there is a degree of calculation to Conor McGregor.
Before the UFC 205 pre-fight press conference predictably descended into chaos, the Irishman swanned into the Madison Square Garden rocking a mink coat and an array of garish Gucci garments.
Initially, the 28-year-old looked deranged, bouncing over to snatch Eddie Alvarez’s (154.6lbs) lightweight belt, which the champ had deserted with McGregor late to the show again, to place it next to his own featherweight strap before screaming obscenities.
Then, it became clear McGregor (154.4lbs) was in fact paying tribute to an MSG icon: Smokin’ Joe Frazier. The heavyweight legend bought a mink coat and wore similar clothing underneath for his trip to The Garden ahead of the 1974 ‘Fight of the Century’ clash with Muhammad Ali.
It was an evocative nod to an icon and came a day after he turned up for media interviews donning a Coogi sweater, in homage to Biggie Smalls, and a few months on since he dressed like El Chapo at a time when the Mexican drug lord was the talk of world media.
He knows how to sell it. But ahead of his bid to become the first simultaneous two-divisional UFC champ at the promotion’s first visit to New York, perhaps he overdid it this time.
The theatre and melodrama of the divisive Irishman’s press conferences have elevated him onto a level of unprecedented pay-per-view success.
Part of the act is getting tiresome, though. And forced. McGregor threatened to launch a chair at Alvarez but was ultimately deterred by security and UFC president Dana White.
It was an altercation which wouldn’t look out of place in the WWE and was unnecessary for an event already sold out and pretty much guaranteed to be a PPV hit.
McGregor’s legacy will not be cemented by his brash antics outside of the Octagon but what he accomplishes in it. But even he can acknowledge that fact.
“This just puts it even more in stone,” McGregor said after the press conference. “A second belt, it’s never been done. No one has ever come close, no one has attempted it. My legacy (is that) I’ll be immortalised after this.
“I’m trying to live in the moment right now, this is such an historic event. I’ll get the second world title.
“I believe that I will put this man away, but I am prepared for five rounds. I predict that I will rearrange his face. He’s too easy to hit.
“I think (I’ll beat him) in one round. If he can hold out and take it to the trenches, I’ll take my hat off to him. But he will never be the same again.”
Alvarez, of course, disagrees, saying: “I’ve always been the underground king in this sport. I just have this belt and no one’s getting it from me. I’m prepared to completely destroy Conor McGregor and silence the whole damn crowd.”
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