Way back in June 2014, before he went and took over the damn world, Conor McGregor was just an unknown featherweight with dreams and hopes and a busted knee. Ten months earlier, at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston, Massachusetts, the young Irishman had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a unanimous decision victory over Max Holloway, and doctors told him he’d be on the shelf for nearly a year. It was the very same injury that had sidelined the UFC’s then-transcendent superstar, Georges St-Pierre, three years earlier, and McGregor, with nothing better to do, started telling anyone who would listen that he would heal faster than GSP did. And then he did. You can count that moment as the beginning of the McGregor Era, a time when calling your shots and blowing your own horn about anything and everything (including how quickly your ligaments recover) would become the order of the day.
Flash forward 10 months, to June 4, 2014. Conor McGregor’s knee is now healed and he is back in training. The opponent he was slated to take on in his comeback fight, on July 19, Cole Miller, just the day before had to pull out due to injury and was quickly replaced by Brazilian Diego Brandao. McGregor, now nearly a year out of the cage, faced with yet another bit of world-shifting news, and probably by that point bored out of his mind, took to Twitter and did what anyone overflowing with ambition might do when plagued once again by the uncertainty of the world: He dreamed about a day when he would be its king and everything would be in its rightful place.
Now, here we are at the tail end of 2016, barely three years after that torn ACL and that lengthy bout of forced inactivity, and Conor McGregor is the first-ever reigning two-belt champion in the history of the UFC. By defeating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 last Saturday he did the impossible and validated the daydreams of a 25-year-old kid with too much time and energy on his hands.
That in itself would be an impressive enough act of prophecy, but to think that McGregor first broadcast his dreams of an ownership stake in the UFC in the very same tweet he mentioned his desire (Plan? Destiny?) to be a two-division champion, and that McGregor won that second belt not two months after news broke of the UFC’s new owners inviting in a small team of celebrities to invest in the company and the week after an investors document released by those same owners proved in cold, hard numerical terms just how enormous a financial impact McGregor has on the promotion, providing McGregor with the perfect moment to tell the world that he won’t be fighting again unless his contract is renegotiated to include an equity stake in the UFC, well, that’s just bizarre, even unnerving.
McGregor and his fans have been calling the fighter “Mystic Mac” for years, in honor of his ability to, like fellow sports mega-stars Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali before him, call his shots, but this kind of prescience, this level of prophesizing and augury, is enough to make even a born skeptic doubt his doubts about the arts of divination, soothsaying, and palmistry. I admit it now: Conor McGregor, beyond being one of the best to ever fight in MMA, might actually be blessed with powers of prophecy.
Of course McGregor’s greatest power, beyond even his fighting skills and his fortune-telling, will always be his gift for self-promotion. After all, it wasn’t us or some other news outlet that dug up that 2014 tweet and rebroadcast it to the world as proof of McGregor’s otherworldly abilities. It was McGregor himself. Because he knows that having even the greatest, most inscrutable, most mysterious powers in the world doesn’t matter if people don’t know about it.
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