Conor McGregor playing dangerous patriot games - and losing
PERHAPS the most disturbing aspect of Conor McGregor's latest humiliating hammering wasn't that it made the front – FRONT – page of several Irish newspapers. Nor that he had the neck on him (what was left after Khabib Nurmagomedov had hauled at it for a few rounds anyway) to call for a re-match, having been soundly thrashed.
It wasn't even that these papers (probably, sadly, correctly) deemed that there was enough interest in such a niche activity – it's not really a sport – to give it such prominence.
No, what bothered me the most was that the post-cuddle (UFC does stand for Unseemly Fierce Cuddling, doesn't it?) shenanigans engendered a modicum of respect from me for the odious McGregor.
Not because of his business skills, which are evidently high at duping dopes out of their money, but at the fact he accepted his post-cuddle beating by team-mates of his opponent.
One of my rules of life is 'Don't give it out if you can't take it'.
I learned long ago that I can't take it, so I try to remember not to give it out.
Believe it or not, I've only been punched twice. You'll find it less hard to believe that both times I deserved it.
On one of those occasions, perhaps one of my proudest moments, I took the whack to the side of my head and said 'Call that a punch?' – but that was the end of it. I accepted that letting an airhorn off right in the guy's head had been a pretty annoying thing to do.
On the other occasion, I was knocked clean out. When I came round, I learned two important lessons: 1) stop shooting my mouth off, especially as 2), I have a glass jaw.
I accepted the puncher's apology, genuinely admiring his power, and told him 'It's all right, I deserved that', having been taunting him with a new nickname he had recently picked up.
To be fair to him, he had told me to stop saying it or else…
I had no intention of running to put in a complaint to a teacher.
Outside of the family home – to be clear, when I was a kid, not recently – I've only punched four people.
One who had been stealing from a charity collector and then attacked a mate of mine when he tried to stop his nefarious practice;
One in retaliation;
One because I was being a teenage dick and was in a bad mood;
And one because he called me a 'bastard'.
On that occasion, I calmly offered him the opportunity to retract, several times, warning him that I would punch him if he didn't.
I wasn't annoyed for myself – I knew his insult wasn't true – but I told him he was insulting my parents, so he got what he deserved, getting landed on his fat posterior.
Those wringing their hands about what Nurmagomedov and his friends did after schooling McGregor on Saturday night/ Sunday morning are like kids in a schoolyard, whining 'he started it'.
In truth, McGregor started it – Khabib and company just finished it.
McGregor started it long ago with his stoking up of nationalistic, racial, and religious tensions.
Nurmagomedov is a Muslim, so McGregor knew exactly how offensive he was being when he offered his opponent some of his 'whiskey' in a pre-cuddle presser and then, when it was refused, taunted:
"Why don't you drink? I'd say you're some buzz at parties, you mad backwards c**t! You're dead when I get my hands on you, you hear me! You're f**king dead!"
McGregor also tried to divide Khabib from some Chechen colleagues, claiming: "The Chechen people know what I'm talking about when I call this man a 'coward' when I called his father a 'quivering coward'.
"Him and Kadyrov were at a mosque together and he posted a picture of Kadyrov on his Instagram site. Kadyrov is a Chechen dictator, a crazy man, don't get me wrong, but Khabib's father, 'lick-arse, Lick-Arse O'F**kin Hoolihan' posted a picture of Kadyrov at this mosque and the caption is 'together we are stronger'. It's such fake respect out of fear…
"It's all these men are known for, they were chased from their land to the edge of cliffs…
"He has a glass jaw. My Chechen friends, the Vainakhy soldiers, they told me that they have chicken jaws in Dagestan and I believe them because I know a glass jaw when I see one."
So insulting an entire people – and his opponent's father. Delightful.
Back in August McGregor had accused Khabib's friend Zabaira Tukhugov of "treason" for taking instructions from Nurmagomedov and turning on Artem Lobov (McGregor's pal):
"A true Chechen would never assist in a Dagestani-led attack on another Chechen. A true Chechen would never take orders from a Dagestani man. This is treason. There is no worse than treason."
I don't know if Lobov is even of Chechen descent, but again McGregor was trying to turn nation against nation.
Hype is one thing, but riling ethnic tensions is going too far.
Besides the idea that you 'must' support someone because you share a nationality is ludicrous and tiny-minded.
My country, right or wrong? That attitude leads to many wrongs.
Judge someone, anyone, by who they are and how they act and speak, not by what flag they drape around themselves.
Those wrapping themselves in the tricolour would be bleating like sheep if Irish people and Ireland were insulted in similar fashion.
Having said all that, the references to Khabib as a 'Russian' bug me a little. No offence intended, Vladimir, honest. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being Russian.
However, Nurmagomedov is a Dagestani, an ethnic Avar. Imagine the outcry if McGregor had been labelled 'British' or 'English', not least from the clowns who troop around after his circus.
Speaking in his post-fight press conference, Nurmagomedov said: "I don't want people talking shit about opponents, talking shit about fathers or religion. You cannot talk about religion or nations. Guys, you cannot talk about this stuff and, for me, this is very important."
Tukhugov, who was due to cuddle Lobov later this month, replied to McGregor's taunting message by saying: "If you are a man – if you're a Chechen man, American man, Ireland man – you tell him [to his face], 'No put Instagram. No message.'
Anyway, if you must shoot your mouth off, you must be able to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
McGregor himself appears to have accepted that he got what he deserved – a beating and then some.
He deserves a little respect for that - but none for most of the rest of what he's said and done.