#UFC189. Epic. Inspiring.

I normally don't blog about sporting events. I'm not a sports writer. I've never claimed to be, but I am a HUGE sports fan. Generally, most sporting events seem to blur together. Someone wins, someone loses, and occasionally it's mildly entertaining. I'm a Philadelphia sports fan so it's a lot of losing, cursing, throwing shit, and then pretending we've still got a chance at the playoffs. 

Then there are nights like last night. Nights that I will probably look back on throughout my life and will always remember.

UFC189 was the most amazing fight card I've ever seen. If you missed it, go back and buy it and watch it after the fact. I can't recall how many times I said "this is fight of the night," or "this is definitely knockout of the year," only to find myself saying it again 10 minutes later. Watching fights that amazing immediately fire me up to get off of my fat ass, get in the gym, and turn my life around and become a fighter...for about ten minutes. Those dreams are usually destroyed when reality collides and I smash the rest of the 20 inch pizza I'm eating alone.

I felt compelled to write about it, but not because of EPIC level of competition, but because of one man: Current Interim Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor.

If you didn't know who Conor McGregor was before July 11th, 2015, you definitely do now. I wasn't really familiar with Conor McGregor up until this fight was announced. I've always been a big Jose Aldo fan, so naturally I looked up Conor after I started to see the press and all of the shit talking. My first thought was "man this guy talks a lot of shit, and I can't wait to see him get his ass kicked." I'm sure that was what many people thought, but as I watched more and more stuff on Conor, I couldn't help but feel drawn in by his personality. 

McGregor is Irish. As an Irish kid myself, I always wanted to find Irish fighters to root for when I was younger and watched a lot of boxing with my dad and brother. There weren't many, so when one comes along, it generally peaks my interest. Most of the Irish fighters I remember were generally very blue-collar, humble, and men of few words. Those words could never be used to describe Conor McGregor. 

On the exterior, I saw a guy that never shut up. This dude talked tremendous shit, but the more I listened, the more I found myself loving the guy. He wears extremely flashy suits and jewelry, and then explains "I work very hard for what I have, and I'm proud of my accomplishments. I reward myself to encourage harder work." When I heard that I thought, "wow, isn't that the American dream in a nutshell?" Working hard, earning your success and wealth, and being proud about that?

In weeks of being a fight fan, and watching all of the press, and going back and watching his fights, Conor McGregor didn't just interest me. He became my favorite fighter. 

Conor is flashy, talks trash, and has an INSANE amount of confidence in himself. I think most people's first reaction to people like that is to hate them. A lot of fight fans hate Ronda Rousey for being the same way. The craziest part to me, is how much they step in the ring and back it up.

I'll put Conor on the bench for a moment, and talk about Ronda. There is arguably not a more dominant athlete in the world right now. If you read Ronda's book, or listen to her talk, you begin to understand that her words aren't representative of an arrogance, or ego. Ronda is the 135 woman's champion in the UFC, and has NEVER lost an MMA fight. Before that, she medaled in Judo in the Olympics at only 21 years of age. Before that, she earned a gold medal in the World Junior Judo Championships at only 17 years of age. She's earned the right to believe in herself.
There is an intensity in their eyes; a focus. After watching her for the last 3 years, and Conor for the last 3 months, I started to believe that their attitude wasn't because of their accolades, but the cause of them. Think of it like the "chicken and egg" conversation. 

I've often times seen actors, comedians,  or even friends of mine with very delusional outlooks on themselves. I've been accused of it as well. We all know people like this. People that say things like "It's just what God has planned for me," or "the Universe is working in my favor," or shit like that. I've criticized them for it, only to see it work down the road. No matter how much people root against them, they still make it happen. Perhaps that "craziness" as we see it, is in fact the confidence they need to reach those levels of greatness.

Is Conor McGregor crazy for believing in himself the way that he does? Is he just a cocky douche?You may have thought so, but watch the end of the fight. (Spoiler Alert) - after he wins the fight in amazing comeback fashion, he collapses to the ground in an emotional outcry balling his eyes out. When interviewed, he talked about how appreciative he was for the opportunity, he praises his opponent for being tough and giving him a hell of a fight on short notice. He is extremely gracious and thanks his teammates and coaches and thanks them for all of the sacrifices they made to help him achieve this dream. Sure, he talks about how tough he is, and how he feels like a concrete block. He never feels a punch, and never doubts himself for a second. Sounds cocky, right? But then follows up by saying "no man is self-made, and no man can do it alone, and I OWE it to the people that believe in me to deliver." I got chills listening to it.

Why did this inspire me so much to write about it? It changed me. It changed the way I view myself. I've always battled between when to show humility and when to show confidence and those decisions are almost ALWAYS made based on what I think other people will perceive about me in the process. Perhaps those moments where I, or any of us for that matter, take a step back to show humility vs show an unwavering belief in ourselves is WHY we aren't champions. It's why we aren't Conor McGregor, or Ronda Rousey, or any of them. 

It's a possibility, but I'll go out on a limb here and say that no one starts their day thinking about how much they believe in me. Or you. We're all so self-focused, and rightfully so, but I now feel like I owe it to anyone that believes in me to have an unwavering belief in myself.  So I say embrace that. Embrace it all the way. Embrace it to a delusional extent, and you just might do something cool. You just might be crazy enough to become the best at whatever it is you care most about. You just might become Champion of the World....or you know GM of an Arby's or whatever your thing is.


Posted on July 12, 2015 .