Right now, my dodgy back is in better shape than Conor McGregor – or Nate Diaz’s face

In the final moments of an ugly UFC 196 scrap in Vegas, both fighters’ bodies were entwined on the canvas mat.  Each man was painted in the other’s blood.  Nate Diaz pulled against Conor McGregor’s throat with his arm, and I turned away.  Movement exponent Ido Portal, was in Conor’s corner.  But it was looking like cage-fighting’s newest sensation needed a priest.

It’s hard to believe a sport so barbaric exists.  In the post-match press conference, one side of winner Nate Diaz’s face was bruised and red sashimi-raw: his right eye, half closed.  Diaz took the fight with only two weeks notice after Conor’s original opponent injured himself.  Diaz had just choked Conor McGregor into submission, strangling the Irishman’s dream of dominating two consecutive weight divisions.  It was hard to look a Diaz without wincing, though.  While I don’t go along with Vincent Hogan who wrote in the Irish Independent. ie, “that UFC will always be a sinkhole of moral questions”, it was a reminder there’s a cost to a man o man free-for-all.

We’ve never met, but like half of Ireland, I consider Conor McGregor a friend.  Conor had been introduced to me in media reports, when I was first amazed, then entertained, by all but his most offensive ranting. “We’re not just here to take part — we’re here to take over.”  But it was his unorthodox training regime that really grabbed me.

The movement training regime of this brazen, trash-talking featherweight did wonders for my dodgy back.  For months now, a personal coach has had me kneeling, squatting and rolling, and crawling like a lizard.  The routines are similar to those of Conor’s trainer, Ido Portal.  I now pedal to university, swim in sea and have even taken up clinical barre sessions.  A year or so ago, my rusting middle-aged joints wouldn’t have permitted it.  I feel I owe Conor McGregor a debt of gratitude.

Vincent Hogan’s prescient article was titled, ‘Story of ‘The Notorious’ will only be revealed when macho mask slips in defeat’.  We didn’t have to wait long.  Being interviewed in the ring after the fight, Conor told UFC president, Dana White, he was “humble in victory, humble in defeat.”  Conor credited Nate Diaz for using his body more efficiently and keeping his composure.  Conor was “simply heartbroken”.

The million dollars he reportedly walked away from Sin City with may surely help.

I’m sworn off watching cage-fights.  But, I can’t wait for the upcoming videos of Conor training for his return.  UFC attracts its share of boneheads, but in a sport on the precipice of decency, or perhaps because of it, an innovative athlete of McGregor’s ingenuity sometimes comes along.  Those of us wanting more from our body best take notice.

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