“Talent does not exist, we are all equals as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that’s that” – Conor McGregor.
Regardless of whether you buy into the above quote or not, it is one that explains much about the UFC featherweight champion and his accomplishments.
Perhaps you are cynical and think that predisposition plays a major role in sporting success, but even if that is true, believing it has very little upside. On the other hand, a resolute belief that the only thing separating one combatant from the next is hard-work has the power to both motivate and inspire.
Nothing, in such a mind, is beyond reach.
During a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, highly-regarded MMA analyst Robin Black identified this mindset as being a hugely important factor in “The Notorious” equation.
“The thing that the guy has is that insane growth mindset,” said Black. “To him anything is possible”.
“If you win the 155lb belt, okay you go fight Robbie[Lawler]. Oh okay, if you won that, who are you going to fight? [Luke]Rockhold? And then Jon Jones? There are limits, you know what I mean. There are fucking limits. But he actually believes there are none, and that belief means that he is better at everything than he was yesterday”.
“There has to be a point. But that belief that there is no point, that belief that there is no limit whatsoever is extremely powerful when it’s put together with a drive of a work ethic – an insane work ethic. That is a powerful thing”.
Black isn’t talking from an uninformed standpoint either, as he currently works alongside Straight Blast Gym’s Sports Psychologist David Mullins on a podcast called “The Mentality of Combat Sports”.
Divulging some of the information that he has learned from his Irish co-host, Black spoke about McGregor’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge on anything that could aid him as a fighter.
“He is his own mental coach – he is on his own journey. Not that he doesn’t want information from David, but he wants it from 50 sources. He’s consuming philosophy and ideas on how to improve, ideas of what it is to be your authentic self, peak performance – all that kind of stuff. Constantly consuming it”.
Black also touched on the subject of the prevailing philosophy within the camp at SBG, one which he feels allows John Kavanagh trained fighters to improve their all-round skill-sets on a constant basis without being hampered by a focus on the individual specifics of an upcoming match-up.
“My inside info that I get from David, from working with him, is that they don’t train for an opponent ever really. The opponent is – he’s not a person, he is a collection of skills and attributes, and a body type, and that’s it. And they are training to get better every day. The goal is to be better”.
The value of such an approach was illustrated, said Black, when Conor was faced with the withdrawal of Jose Aldo prior to UFC 189 and his replacement with a fighter whose style was different entirely from the Brazilian.
“Why is that a good thing? Among the millions of reasons, ‘Jose Aldo is out, Chad Mendes is in’. If you spent all that time training for Jose Aldo instead of Chad Mendes, ‘Oh my God Chad Mendes is in?’ Questions, doubts, concerns, ‘what are we doing?’ Instead he was like, ‘it doesn’t matter who it is'”.
“They train to get better everyday, in everything”.
You can watch the relevant segment of the podcast below.