There are very few things which can motivate me to get out of my bed at 5:00 am on a Sunday morning. My two very small children are one of them, however if I'm being honest, and many parents I feel would agree with me on this, it is less of a choice and much more of a necessity.
So this past Sunday, following two days of feeling absolutely terrible and struggling with some very blocked sinuses, my alarm went off before the sun had even attempted to crawl into the sky and a miracle happened. Despite the feeling of having a concrete face mask strapped to my head and the overwhelming urge to just roll over and retreat back into the welcoming arms of slumber, I rose from my bed and tiptoed downstairs with my iPad.
What could be so important as to possibly derail my recovery? Well it is not so much a what as it is a who!
The Notorious Conor McGregor. Some of you may remember I wrote a blog about this particularly mercurial sportsman back in February of this year. In it I wrote extensively about the way McGregor communicates. The conviction. The indestructible self belief. The psychological warfare that he wages on his opponent, resulting in them so often being either over-emotional or completely unmotivated by the time they step into the Octagon.
There were also a few key points which I felt the Communications industry could learn from this 27 year old former plumber. They were...
1. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Set yourself goals, celebrate when you achieve them, but if you want to keep moving up, like an athlete you'll have to be back in the gym the very next day.
2. Be confident in your own abilities. If you don't believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
3. Talk is cheap. If you say you are going to do something, make sure you deliver.
All good stuff, right? Well now it appears that there is another very important point to add to that list. But before I continue, some much needed context is required.
At UFC 194, Conor McGregor was blessed with the opportunity he has been waiting for since he began training in mixed martial arts - the chance to be considered the best in the world. And as we all know, in any and all walks of life, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Enter Jose Aldo. The 29 year old Brazilian fighter was the only UFC featherweight champion the organisation has ever had. Undefeated in over a decade, this guy has demolished every opponent who has ever dared to take his crown. A master of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a ferocious Muay Thai kickboxer, Jose Aldo was the answer to the question "Who can stop the seemingly unstoppable rise of Ireland's Conor McGregor?".
The mixed martial arts community has been buzzing about this fight for more than a year now. The fight was originally slated for 11th July, however following a rib injury the champion was forced to withdraw and McGregor was left to fight his replacement Chad "Money" Mendes. Many believed that outside of Aldo, Mendes' wrestling background could very well be McGregor's kryptonite.
Alas, McGregor had other ideas. After being taken down to the ground time after time and mauled by his opponent, the thousands of Irish fans who invaded Las Vegas went beserk when the Irishman rose to his feet and knocked Mendes out with his trademark straight left to the jaw.
Fast forward to this past Sunday and the fight millions of people around the world have been salivating over is finally about to happen. Once again the Irish have descended upon Las Vegas in droves and the Notorious One walks out to the bizarre mash-up of Sinead O'Connor "Foggy Dew" and Biggie's "Hypnotize".
Now this is where it gets interesting. In the extensive build-up to the event, much had been made of McGregor's fresh approach to training by MMA analysts and fighters alike. Rather than choosing to walk the well-beaten (pun intended) path of round after round of heavy sparring, McGregor opted instead to employ movement coach Ido Portal to coach him in some very unusual-looking exercises which focus on freeing the body, rather than restricting it.
To many this looked frankly ridiculous. Every other fighter on the card for UFC 194 turned up to their open workout and spent 30 minutes or so hitting pads in front of the fans. Not McGregor though. Take a look at the video below and you will see why many feared the fighter's sanity and health when he started doing bunny hops and forward rolls instead.
You may be beginning to catch the thread of what I'm getting at with this piece. How many times have people who have dared to strike off in new and untested directions been met with hoots of derision and wide-spread mockery, only for their detractors' laughter to catch in their throats as they witness what can be achieved when we think and act differently?
How long do you think it took for those sneery individuals to reassess their opinion? I'll tell you. It took 13 seconds.
The undefeated featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, met Conor McGregor in the centre of the Octagon. He threw a straight right hand but McGregor simply wasn't there. The Notorious One had pivoted to the left and allowed Aldo's momentum to walk him straight onto his counter left hand, and it was over. Aldo was knocked out before he hit the mat.
Now if you haven't seen the footage, go and watch. Not because it is fun watching someone getting hurt, and certainly not because it is fun to see someone fail. Watch because what you are seeing is a defining moment in the history of a sport. Before that moment, mixed martial arts has gone through certain eras. There was the era of jiu-jitsu. There was the era of wrestling and the era of striking. There was the era of the all-round athlete and then the super athlete.
In 13 seconds Conor McGregor transitioned an entire sport to the era of Mind and Movement. Confidence and Fluidity. MMA coaches around the world have been forced to stop and think about their approach to the sport because when you see something that spectacular, you are a fool if you don't take notice.
Innovation will be the watch-word going forward now instead of following the natural progression of everything which has gone before. MMA Analyst Robin Black said it best with...
"Jose Aldo was the best taxi cab in the world....but Conor McGregor is Uber".
If you liked this post, check out my previous article Conor McGregor: A Lesson in Effective Communication