For a 145 pound man, Conor McGregor takes up a lot of oxygen in a room. Most of it when the brash Irishman pontificates, illuminates, and even gyrates leaving everyone else close to breathless. The interim UFC featherweight champ takes on the current champ of the division Jose Aldo this Saturday at UFC 194.
Of course any MMA fan knows this, many as well realize there is a co-main event with a belt at stake but you have to really follow the sport to realize what would normally be a much hyped showdown is generating but a few breaths in the general talk.
Such is the overwhelming personality of McGregor, who separates himself from other showmen by being one with considerable talent to so far backup his thousands of words. He is the new box office and PPV male star of the UFC and shines so brightly even the proven Aldo has been blinded in press conferences.
Somewhere in the shadows is the 13-0 UFC middleweight king Chris Weidman getting ready for his fourth title defense against former Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold who has won four straight. This is a marketing dream of a match.
In one corner is the blue collar kid from Long Island in Weidman who pulled one of the sport’s biggest upsets in 2013 at UFC 162 when he beat the widely regarded “best ever” in Anderson Silva. Then he beat him again in his first title defense.
In the other corner is the challenger, a surfer on the side in Rockhold from Santa Cruz, California. He has been building to this, his biggest moment entering the octagon with a rush of momentum after wins over Michael Bisping and Lyoto Machida.
It’s New York versus California. Coast to Coast. Two well respected, well spoken and nice looking young men. Slap them on the cover of a magazine, put a microphone under the nose and they won’t disappoint. Their bravado pales to that of McGregor, to no fault of their own. McGregor is special, the likes of which the sport hasn’t completely seen. They’ve watched and heard big talkers but not one who has a belt around his waist.
To add to Weidman-Rockhold moving farther out of the mainstream press is that this week former champ Ronda Rousey decided to talk about his first career loss to Holly Holm.
This is the ultimate one-two PR punch, the charismatic McGregor and the best known MMA fighter in the world, Rousey, both with something to say leading up to the fight card in Las Vegas. And oh yes, that other UFC title fight this weekend. It will be, or at least looks like it will be, really good. Weidman, yeah he beat Silva and all and yeah Rockhold looks like a solid contender, but Conor and Ronda just a few more questions.
Their egos are not so fragile or needy that the lack of attention this week has thrown either Weidman or Rockhold off their focus. While they give good quotes and can be charming, their forte is what they do when the cage door closes. Maybe for them that is the only attention they really want or need as the fight draws near.
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