Conor McGregor is the biggest name in mixed martial arts history.
Despite MMA being a niche sport he is one of today’s biggest names in all competitive sports also.
Why? Because he has a larger than life personality with an unrivalled mindset and confidence which is backed up inside the octagon of the most brutal sport in the world.
His personality reflects his fighting style. Brutal, brash, eloquent, sharp and, most importantly, entertaining.
Indeed the Irishman is an entertainer and also an astute businessman as well as being a cage warrior who is willing to go into battle with anyone.
In the rare occasion that he didn’t win, he learned from his defeat, came back stronger and rectified the only loss he’s had in the UFC.
Psychologically most of his opponents are beat before they step into the ring.
Not because of his physical demeanour. He fights men who are the same size as him, but because of the superior confidence and cockiness he brings on the run up to a fight.
In this pre-fight psychological warfare McGregor has lost no battles.
His charisma is no match for any regular opponent and from this point of view he emulates the brashness of Muhammad Ali when he came onto the scene as Cassius Clay in the 60s.
Like Ali McGregor has mastered his world through his mindset. Despite being a physical fighting specimen with the ability to defeat an opponent down in many ways it is his mind which is his greatest asset.
Breaking it down, this is the McGregor Mindset.
The McGregor Mindset is obsessed with his craft
“There’s no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist, we are all equal as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that [is] that. I am not talented, I am obsessed.”
First and foremost McGregor is obsessed with his craft. The quote above illustrates this. He doesn’t believe he’s uniquely talented at MMA fighting but what he does believe is that no one works harder than he does. He is regularly quoted on his superior work ethic and in his mind no one works harder.
Whether this is true or not it is what he believes and therefore it is his truth.
He uses visualisation
“It feels great. It feels familiar. I saw it clear. I swear to God, I saw it so clearly, so consistently until it’s here in reality. I’ve been saying this a long time.”
It’s widely known that McGregor believes in the power of visualisation and the law of attraction and there are numerous examples online of where he has used it.
The above quote is from after his fight with Eddie Alvarez to win the Lightweight belt. Already the Featherweight belt holder, McGregor talks about how, prior to the fight, he saw himself putting both belts over his shoulders. He called this in 2014 and won the belt two years later.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 15, 2016
He has total belief in himself
“At the end of the day, you gotta feel some way. So why not feel unbeatable? Why not feel untouchable”
There is no fooling himself here. There isn’t a shadow of a doubt in his mind that he is the best fighter on the world stage. The way he carries himself, how he speaks and his track record show that he believes he is the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter on the planet.
Even after the first Nate Diaz fight he was humble in defeat but stated from the outset that they would fight again and he would avenge his loss.
He is humble enough to still call himself a student of the fight game but has an understanding of the industry and his competition than anyone else. This has given him the knowledge to believe that he is the greatest.
He goes back to his roots
“I have become lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting. It is time to go back and live the life that got me this life.”
When he lost his first fight to Nate Diaz, McGregor knew he had to go back to his old way of training. The hype, publicity and increased fame brought him more promotional responsibilities which affected his training and mindset.
He accepted this defeat and went back to his old ways of training and refused to do as much publicity the second time around. This refusal nearly cost him the rematch but he stuck to his guns and eventually an agreement was made with the UFC and the fight was made. He went back home back to his roots and the rest is history.
He brings humour with cockiness
“I’ve spent a lot of time, Joe [Rogan interviewing him] slating everybody in the company. Backstage I’m starting fights off with everybody. I’ve ridiculed everyone on the roster and I just want to say from the bottom of me heart, I’d like to take this chance to apologise … to absolute nobody! The double champ does what the f*ck he wants!”
McGregor is disrespectful, rude and ungracious to pretty much every UFC fighter and especially his opponents. Part of this is, of course, pre-fight hype which has been used in fighting for years to sell a fight. McGregor takes this to the next level however and even when he is not fighting he is trash talking.
What makes McGregor so good at this is he is very funny. He has the quick fire wit of a comedian and often makes his opponents the butt of his jokes. Doing this makes the supposed neutral interviewer warm to his antics.
He stays loyal
“I wanted to come over here to America to show the American public the new era of the fighting Irish, and I brought my whole country with me. We’re not here just to take part we’re here to take over.”
McGregor is a proud nationalist and walks into the octagon with the Irish flag draped over him. He trains in his homeland and his team is made of the same people he started with. Fame and fortune have not affected his loyalty and he has stated on numerous occasions that loyalty is one of the most important things to him.
It’s unknown whether his mindset comes natural to him or it is something he has developed over the years by putting in the gruelling hours in the gym, facing his fears in the octagon and doing deep introspective work.
One thing is clear though, McGregor’s mindset will be observed for years to come.
Mindset has always been important to any sport and especially the fight game. Increasingly we’ll see professional athletes of all kinds breaking down McGregor’s mindset principles and replicating them.
Sports psychology has been around for years but sports mindset? Could be an entirely new field altogether.