Conor McGregor is an engaging presence. The UFC obviously likes the McGregor optics from a marketing perspective — he scans a little like early Eminem on the rap scene. He says whatever he thinks, he taunts, he boasts, he backs it up — and he doesn’t look like everybody else, it must be said of the red-headed Irishman. McGregor will fight Nate Diaz in the main event at UFC 196 on March 5. His previously scheduled opponent Rafael Dos Anjos had to withdraw from the bout because of a foot injury. The late replacement gives McGregor an advantage, according to English middleweight Michael Bisping, who says the short notice makes McGregor one of the “luckiest men in MMA.”
McGregor will hear the undertones there — that he gets more than he deserves, maybe because of his viewer-friendly optics. And he disagrees vehemently. But even boxer Floyd Mayweather has speculated that McGregor’s pale skin helps him get away with smack talk that other fighters get heat for. The history of the fight business is littered with examples of “made men” whose opponents were hand-selected for defeat — to help set up big money bouts that people wanted to see. Thing about McGregor is he keeps getting in the ring with guys like Diaz who clearly want to win. If the UFC is trying to escort McGregor to even greater fame, giving his opponents short notice is the best they can do.