If you believe that Conor McGregor’s astounding 13-second knockout victory over Jose Aldo will be enough to silence his legion of doubters, you are very much mistaken.
Though they might seem like the most definitive of victories, lightning quick knockouts have ready made excuses built right in. It’s too easy to claim that somebody was merely “caught cold” or hit with the mythical “lucky punch” when their lights are turned out so suddenly. Therefore, once the initial furor dies down and the revisionism begins, the achievement becomes somewhat diluted.
Then again it may not have mattered what way Conor got the job done on Saturday night.
Had he turned in a spectacular and brutally efficient display for four full rounds, dominating the Brazilian on the feet every step of the way before stopping him in savage fashion, McGregor would still have his detractors.
The man himself is well aware of this, but, not surprisingly, he is unperturbed.
In the aftermath of the fight, Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting asked McGregor what his doubters could possibly say to continue perpetuating the idea that he is merely a company fuelled hype train, considering he had just obliterated a man who had previously been undefeated for a decade.
“I’m sure there’s something”, said the now undisputed featherweight champion. “I’ll wait and giggle at what they say tomorrow”.
Characteristically, McGregor also sought out the positive in the situation.
“There’s always something. There’s always something. But questions are good”.
Given that he stressed the importance of precision in his post fight speech, it should come as no surprise that the business-minded titleholder hit the nail right on the head with that comment.
While many fighters would be frustrated by the constant questioning of their ability and legitimacy, Conor realises that this doubt has played an important role his ascension to superstar status.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. became a major attraction when he embraced the role of the bad guy. He realized that people were just as willing to hand over their cash for the chance to see someone they disliked – lose, as to see someone that they liked – win. And it was always going to be much easier for Floyd to inspire hatred than to secure mass adoration.
Conor may not have fully committed to the heel role, but to many he is certainly more villain than hero. Thus, he too is profiting from those who want to see him lose.
The difference between “Money” and “The Notorious” one, however, is that large groups of people actually believe that McGregor is going to be defeated.
The mercurial Mayweather’s near supernatural ability to avoid punches made it hard to actually buy into the idea that he would lose, but the widely held perception that Conor is vulnerable in the grappling department means that people can envisage him being beaten.
This brings excitement, and only adds to his growth potential as a marquee attraction.
So let the doubters say what they will. Doubt, curiosity and, as Conor says, questions are a good thing in combat sports. After all, when there are questions, people want answers. And for those, you will have to tune in.