MMA remains a divisive sport. Following Conor McGregor's demolition of Diego Brandao in Dublin last year, RTE's Tony O'Donoghue tweeted that it was 'disgusting' and '#notasport'.
Now, Willie Hegarty, possibly the finest local GAA commentator in the country, was the latest to stick his head above the parapet and voice a contrary view on the UFC.
In his Roscommon Herald column this week, he said the sport should be banned and described it as 'brutal and sick'. We spoke to Hegarty this afternoon (listen below).
Keen to stress at all times that it is merely his personal opinion, Willie said he didn't believe that MMA was a sport and wasn't a safe activity for aspiring sportspeople.
I don't think it's a sport. I don't think it's a sport that young sportspeople should be involved in or looking at. I don't see it as a safe sport. I would love to find out if Conor McGregor wasn't Irish or wasn't doing what he is doing, I don't think anybody in Ireland would be aware of such a sport.
Conor has turned it around into a real entertainment show. To get the amount of people that travel from Ireland to Las Vegas to watch a fight that lasts 13 seconds - that to me is extraordinary, to me it's madness.
I just feel that it's a sport that throughout the length and breadth of this country at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning outside nightclubs, I would put that sport in the same bracket.
Hegarty says none of this is a criticism of Conor McGregor. He admires that McGregor has managed to reach the summit of his profession and says 'fair play to him' (and his fashion sense).
It's not about Conor McGregor. It's about the sport that Conor McGregor is associated with. I'd say Conor McGregor has reached the height of his potential. He has driven himself to be the best in the world and anyone who can do that, and particularly when they're Irish, I say 'fair play to them'.
I take my hat off to Conor. I'd say he's a good guy, a good individual outside the ring. When he's inside it, he's a savage and that's his profession. I just think that in there, it reminds me of open air street fighting at 3 o'clock in the morning.
How does Willie feel about the prospect - increasingly likely according to bookmakers - of McGregor being named RTE Sports Person of the Year tomorrow night?
I think it would be sad. I don't think it would be right. I suppose he's coming at the right time. It's coming within a week of the event so he's in the news... I'd be disappointed if he was voted sports person of the year in Ireland.
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