For all of the adulation that gets heaped on Conor McGregor by fans with each passing press conference it appears it is diminishing other fighters’ opinion of him.
That is the take of Donald Cerrone at least, as he vented his frustration at the Dubliner in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
In the segment, Cerrone sounded exasperated when the host brought up McGregor’s name. He dismissed the notion that the McGregor the audience sees at press conferences is the real McGregor that he meets backstage,
“It’s all an act, a big show. We couldn’t hear what he was saying, he was just rambling and we were behind the speaker.
“I just tune him out, because behind the scenes he is like a scared little kid. He hides from us. When they line us all up they take Conor and put him in another room because he can’t be around other fighters because we don’t play that s**t.”
This is not the first time that Cerrone has laid into what he sees as McGregor’s fake persona for the cameras. Last year after the two verbally sparred at a press conference Cerrone said that afterwards,
“When we stood face-to-face prior to that? He had nothing to say. I felt like I was an exhibit at the zoo and the cage was put up so he could poke the bear through the cage. When he was standing next to the bear he didn’t have anything to say. That’s what it felt like. I would have mauled his ass back there.”
He seems to hold a grudge against McGregor unlike any other fighter on the roster as he has chirped away about him routinely in the time since then. One should take his suggestion that McGregor is disliked, “by all” other fighters with a pinch of salt. Indeed, one could even say that Cerrone himself comes across as quite “salty” given that Nate Diaz, Chad Mendes and even José Aldo have paid McGregor quite a lot of respect after their fights.
Aldo’s view does interestingly back up the first part of Cerrone’s assertion that McGregor is putting on “a big show” when he has a microphone in front of him. But he also detailed their “friendly relationship“ while on the promotional tour before UFC 194. The Brazilian has also been at pains to say that in relation to his current dispute with the UFC, “Conor is not my issue.”
So if the man who McGregor taunted mercilessly for nearly two years before being ultimately knocked out by him still appears to bear no personal dislike towards him, Cerrone’s claims appear to be seeped with bias and, possibly, jealousy. His statement of,
“He’s not one of the fellas. He’s not a good dude. But it is what it is. He’s done a good job of promoting the sport and he’s done a good job at making money. So I can’t hate the guy for that but just as a person, I ain’t a fan of his”
seems very over-the-top.
Speaking of over-the-top, McGregor probably does play a pantomime version of himself out there but it’s pretty clearly a part of a money-making formula which he has executed perfectly.
Though Cerrone is an extremely talented and exciting fighter in his own right, he should probably give up the ghost on bad-mouthing McGregor as it only seems to lead to people saying bad things about him.
Vincent Whelan, Pundit Arena