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Will the real Conor McGregor please stand up?

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421   //    30 Aug 2017, 12:15 IST

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor

As Conor McGregor arrived at the podium to address the press after the fight, whiskey bottle in hand, the familiar master promoter in him peeked out momentarily.

"Notorious Irish Whiskey... coming soon," he said, grinning widely, as he proudly displayed the bottle to the people that were congregated there.

Ironically, that was the only glimpse of the Conor McGregor that we know and relate to that we saw on the day.

It was, otherwise, a chastening experience for the Irishman in his first ever boxing fight; being outboxed and stopped by a man who was 40 years old, retired for two years and historically of brittle hands.

There was no knockout within two rounds as "Mystic Mac" had sworn time and again to deliver. Floyd Mayweather's head didn't bounce off the canvas like he had promised it would. Tellingly, for the most part, that vaunted 'touch of death' in his left hand didn't meet the gleaming dome of Floyd Mayweather Jr's head.

And even when it did, the boxing maestro plodded forward, seemingly unaffected.

For the first time in four years, since we've grown accustomed to seeing him import the country of Ireland and pack them into Las Vegas arenas, Conor McGregor wasn't the larger-than-life mover of mountains that we've known him to be.

He was gassed, stumbling around in the ring towards the end of the fight, unable to defend himself effectively and on unsteady legs.

The mirage of invincibility that Conor McGregor had draped around himself was being stripped off, layer by layer.

But for those who expected to see a shell of a man closeted underneath, the most wonderful surprise awaited.


The Irishman's allure stems from the fact that he's willing to take risks that other fighters would dismiss as inane.

He sets the bar higher each time and bullishly backs himself to hold on when he takes the leap of faith.

He humanized the aura surrounding the former ten-year undefeated Featherweight Champion of the world when other fighters steered clear in reverence, moved up a weight class and laid waste to a wrestler who called him the "easiest fight in the division" and then chose to cross swords with the greatest boxer of this generation, pursuing a payday that most MMA fighters wouldn't even dare dream of.

Only, the disparity in skill between a thoroughbred, undefeated boxer, and a freestyle fighter who dabbled in boxing in his amateur days proved too steep a chasm to bridge on Saturday night, try as he might.

Conor McGregor fought valiantly for almost 30 minutes, even nicking a few rounds in the process, but ultimately fell to a superior technician who knew how to cast aside all the mind games and zero in on exploiting his opponent's lack of ring smarts.

Floyd Mayweather let Conor McGregor punch himself out, landed cleanly on his body early on and started chasing the kill when the openings to the head presented themselves in the later rounds.

Constantly pressured into back-pedalling and overcome by fatigue, McGregor eventually wilted in the tenth round under the barrage of punches that Mayweather threw.

Suddenly, Floyd requesting smaller gloves for the fight made sense. As did all of his finger-pointing at Conor whenever the term 'easy work' was mentioned during the boisterous press tour.

They say that a crocodile in the water can even get the better of a lion.

It would seem that the lion-hearted Irishman had finally bitten off more than he could chew.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor

There is something endearingly vulnerable about Conor McGregor right after he loses... when his braggadocios public persona parts to unearth the man beneath the facade.

The 'state of Zen' that he puts on before fights gives way to reveal a man who's not afraid to accept that he's just taken one on the chin. The cocksure pre-fight verbal volleys dissolve into a heartfelt, contrite confession about what went wrong for him in the fight.

The carefully tailored US-friendly accent reverts to one that resonates across the pubs of Dublin, my turns into me, global icon to Crumlin lad, and mega star back to mortal.

Through this crunching metamorphosis, however, what shines through the most is the fact that Conor McGregor is perfectly willing to take risks that others are too afraid to even fathom.

Even if it means that he may fall short in pursuit of it.

He has absolutely no qualms about being made to look ridiculous as long as it gives him a shot at creating history. He embraces the attention when he wins and doesn't shy away from the overbearing scrutiny when he doesn't.

The hallmark of a true champion lies in how they handle their losses. And in the era of Ronda Rousey, another promotional mainstay of the UFC who still hasn't squared with the media after getting knocked out by Holly Holm 22 months ago, Conor McGregor is a breath of fresh air.

Open, unafraid, rueful and even a touch sad... but still standing.

It's almost poetic how we are acquainted with the man behind all of the machismo only when he loses.

But even in a situation when everything he's built himself to appear as to the remainder of the world is brushed aside, Conor McGregor -- the man -- is still a sight to behold.

Stripped of his clairvoyance and left hand rendered ineffective, what we got on Saturday night was a rare glimpse of that.

And I don't know about you, but I quite liked what I saw.

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