Conor McGregor provided a wonderful piece of imagery in a BT Sport interview, when he explained to Gareth A. Davies why he doesn’t feel pressure when he makes that walk on fight night.
The journalist prodded McGregor to talk about the strains of the UFC 189 saga and his eventual fight with Chad Mendes. “There was a lot of pressure on you, whatever you say, whether you say you don’t feel it”, said Davies.
Conor didn’t deny that the build-up had it’s stresses.
“Maybe previous, when all the stuff is going on. The obligations, the injuries, the hours you are away from you comfort”, said McGregor.
He did deny, however, that he felt any pressure when the moment of truth arrived. When the time came for him to wrap the tricolor around his shoulders and begin his purposeful march towards the octagon, the fighter claimed those feelings began to dissipate.
“That’s why I say I don’t feel pressure on fight night, I don’t feel pressure when I make that walk. Someone asked me what it’s like when I make that walk. What it’s like when I walk out into that arena. And I swear on my life, when I walk out into that arena, I honestly feel like I’m unshackling chains off of me. I feel like I’m chained and I’m carrying a cross or something. And when I get to that octagon I’m peeling it all off. And when I finally step foot in that octagon, and place my bare feet on that special UFC canvas – I feel free. Now what I’m doing this for is finally here”.
The burden that McGregor spoke of, represented by those metaphorical chains, is clearly everything else that goes with the fight business. The aforementioned promotional obligations, and the work with the media. It may be surprising, because he is so much better at that element of the game than anyone else, but Conor isn’t a fan of that side of his work.
“I’m not doing this for this[the interview]. I’m not doing this for fake acting and pretending, you know what I mean? Trying to give emotion to some guy who wants emotion from me for a shot. I can’t do that. I don’t do this for that! But I understand it’s a double edged sword and you must do that. I do it for the competition. To step foot inside that octagon, to have that feeling of freedom. That’s why I say I do not feel pressure. I do not. I feel free in there”.
Fighters often say things like this. That they feel at home inside the octagon, or that they don’t feel the nerves. It is easier to believe McGregor than most, however. He appears so relaxed, even in the most daunting of situations, and moves with such fluidity that he really does appear to be unshackled, unburdened – free.
You can see the full interview here.