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Will Trash Talking Pay Off for McGregor Again?

Conor McGregor is not a man to mince his words, and he’s not an individual known for holding his tongue when it comes to letting the world know what he thinks is going to happen. The world of boxing hasn’t exactly embraced him, and by all accounts he isn’t expected to do overly well against Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, who has a 49-0 record, but he does have one thing up his sleeve that could help him win that crucial mental fight: his ability to talk himself up.

McGregor: A Man with a Motor Mouth Who Backs Up the Noise

Of course, the simple retort to McGregor from Mayweather fans is that he hasn’t even stepped foot in a boxing ring for a professional fight. For Mayweather fans, this means that he doesn’t have the experience needed to make him worthy to fight a man who has an unbeaten track record. However, the truth is that every time Conor McGregor has made a bold prediction, it has pretty much come true.

The most interesting element of his trash talking and vocal self-belief is the fact that McGregor believes he has been bred and brought up on battle. He talks about having the drive and determination required to want to carry on the battle and prove doubters wrong against all the odds, and in fairness he does possess that rather strange aura whereby when he says something, however outlandish, you know he actually genuinely believes every word of it.

This ability to not only make yourself believe what you are saying, but also make your opponents believe it links in well with other sports and gaming activities, most notably poker. Being able to bluff when you can’t deliver on your promises was made famous by Will Kassouf, who bluffed hard and then won with only a nine in his hand, making himself a poker legend in the process and showing an ability to utterly psych out his opponent. While Kassouf bluffed hard at poker, his trash talking was normally done after winning for maximum impact. McGregor has, in the past, done exactly the opposite of this. He has seen this aggressive approach pay off when he (nearly) delivered on his promise to defeat Dustin Poirier at UFC 118 in Las Vegas in the first round, doing so within two minutes of the bout, showing that creating an aura around yourself, whether before or after an event is a key part to getting an edge in a range of sports.

Drawing Inspiration from a Great?
If you look at the individuals who have enjoyed trash talking in 888poker’s discussion of it in sport, you will see that two other boxing names leap out at you: Floyd Mayweather and Muhammad Ali. Although there is no suggestion that McGregor is going to emulate Ali, the lack of belief in him, and the image of him as a huge underdog draw a similar parallel to the pre-match talk that Ali would be crushed by Sonny Liston.


“Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather” by Global Panorama (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In some ways, the trash talking by Ali helped to develop the reputation that he made for himself after winning this fight. If McGregor can emulate this, then there is no reason why he can’t make a decent fist of a fight that many believe he simply isn’t ready for.

However, should McGregor fail to back up his words with either actions or true self-belief, then the Mayweather quote stating that Ricky Hatton wasn’t even worthy of being his sparring partner could easily become true, with McGregor’s reputation destroyed as he goes back to the UFC to lick his wounds and hope that his fans can continue to believe in him.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie