Ever since Conor McGregor signed to the UFC the media attention he has garnered has increased exponentially. The loquacious Dub has been a magnet for mics, and has doled out original and funny soundbites with ease and verve.
Back when McGregor was focused (and fighting regularly), working towards the featherweight belt and then ultimately the lightweight title, he was a lot easier on the ear and what he was preaching, despite how hyperbolic it may have been, was at the very least amusing.
But as McGregor's ego has swelled, the wit has been lost from his barbs and the proclamations of greatness have become stale and repetitive.
Early interviews with McGregor were a joy to watch and show a quick thinker, who could break down an opponents technique as simply as he could destroy their character.
In 2014, his measured cockiness in the face of Dustin Poirier showed his ability to draw a crowd and the Dubliner mixed things up, taking shots at Poirier's propensity to take a knee in fights, picking out the American's deteriorating chin and coupled that with his own colourful descriptions of how he would finish the featherweight. He was fresh, he was entertaining.
Fast forward to 2015 and UFC's 'Time Is Now' press conference and again McGregor had the world chuckling at the introduction of 'red panty night', where McGregor cemented himself as the money fight and the jewel in the crown of the UFC. Thought of as the joker among the UFC's roster, the speculation as to whether McGregor would be able to back up his supreme confidence was fascinating to watch.
From then he tortured Jose Aldo both on the mic and in the Octagon. But McGregor found his first true rivalry with Stockton fighter Nate Diaz, and 'The Notorious' milked the tension between the two for all it was worth. It was here where McGregor really indulged his theatrical side, McGregor didn't feel the need for incisive take downs of his opponents but resorted to 'fuck Diaz, fuck everyone, I am the king', repeat ad nauseum.
In many ways the defeat to Diaz was a blessing in disguise as it refocused McGregor, he was forced to reevaluate his game and as a result he was a lot easier to listen to. But then, as we all know, he beat Diaz at UFC 205 and all of the bluster that was stripped away in defeat returned once more.
Next up was Eddie Alvarez and again McGregor bordered on insufferable in his Gucci mink coat, telling his opponent to "suck these Irish balls". Obnoxiousness was beginning to trump wit.
Following his dismantling of Alvarez, the zenith of McGregor's publicity was undoubtedly the promotion for his bout with undefeated boxer Floyd 'Money' Mayweather. Four separate press conferences held in LA, Toronto, New York and London served to build monumental hype for the fight. What ensued was four events worth of expletive laden name calling, hollow grandstanding and some truly cringe worthy attempts at humour, with McGregors' 'black from the belly button down' line, however jokey, a particularly low moment for the Crumlin native.
Now, while he plots his next move, all we see of McGregor are glimpses into of his lavish lifestyle, his numerous ad campaigns and and occasional boast to keep himself in the news cycle. The cocky underdog has been replaced with a crass, blow hard that seems more interested in promoting Burger King's Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich than returning to the Octagon.
I run New York. pic.twitter.com/TjxNjbGBGo
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 2, 2018
While there will be many that will claim that McGregor was insufferable from the get go, his attitude has definitely coarsened with his meteoric rise from featherweight hopeful to media juggernaut. Money is at the forefront of everything he does, and while that is not a totally contemptible way to live your life, it has meant that McGregor has become more interested in building his brand than a fighting legacy. The Mayweather fight was a testament to his financial prowess, and it's hard to argue that McGregor lost anything other than some pride in his loss to the 50-0 fighter, but after the contest there was a real feeling of anticlimax about what was a sickeningly over-hyped event.
But with every win that McGregor does claim, the less we see of his introspective, analytical and witty self. Increasingly we are subjected to an empty, puffed up caricature of the man who was once the great entertainer of the UFC.