Hard shell soft core! Sounds cliché, it is.
Still: That’s exactly how I experienced UFC fighter Conor McGregor (32).
On the night of Sunday he climbs into the cage against Dustin Poirier (32) – live from 4 a.m. on DAZN!
It was the year 2015. His opponent then: Jose Aldo. Before that, Conor promised a knockout … he kept it.
Conor is preparing for the next fight when I meet “The Notorious” for an interview in Los Angeles. As expected, he arrives in a Bentley, with gold chains around his neck and an entourage of friends.
A few days beforehand my cameraman had to stand on a water tank to get a decent photo of Dirk Nowitzki (42). Now the professional athlete is at eye level with me. At least physically. Nowitzki is 38 cm taller, but McGregor is not a bit shorter.
Without words, he sits down at the table in the restaurant that has been prepared for the interviews.
Despite the hustle and bustle around it, he seems calm and focused. I ask myself briefly whether this is the same man who previously said about Eddie Alvarez (37) that he would “make his face so that his wife and children will not recognize him.” So he saves the big sayings up for the show?
He patiently answers all questions, does not wander and above all does not get loud. And all of that for 55 minutes!
Where does this calm come from? It’s tattoos and beaches: “Going to the beach is my escape. I go to the beach, get a tattoo and recharge my batteries. Then my body feels free. “
The longer I listen to his words, the clearer it becomes to me: Conor McGregor is not kidding. There is a lot of discipline behind every fight. Both physically and mentally.
Whatever happens in the cage has already happened in his head. “You against yourself. The opponent is an illusion. The real greats can overcome strokes of fate and only then really become legends. And I suffered a few blows of fate. That strengthened my self-confidence. “
I suddenly see a completely different side of Conor McGregor: A sentimental and focused visionary. Even in Ireland he shaped his own life:
“I always visualized everything. I always had a vision to get better. It didn’t matter if I was driving around in an old car, in my head I was driving a beautiful Bentley in California. And now I drive a beautiful Bentley in California. I always imagined victory, success and fortune. I visualized everything and it all happened. It is a wonderful thing to see your visions become reality ”.
However, one thing strikes me in particular: Time and again, he calls the process of fighting a “game”. The training is part of the “game”, the rehab is part of the “game” and the quick-tempered promo appearances are also part of the “game”.
He is driven by this “game”: “I tell myself why I’m doing it and what I’m doing it for, and then I motivate myself again. I chose this life and built it up. This life is not for everyone. It’s only for insane, ambitious people. And that’s exactly what I am. ”
With this focus he draws people around him under his spell. No wonder he has this entourage. As detailed as he envisioned his success, his departure is just as clear to him:
“I love this life. It is important for me to remember that I love it. There are definitely days when I say to myself, ‘Fuck it all. I’ve had enough’. And one day I’ll stop and say nothing to anyone. I’ll just be gone. ”
And so he ends our conversation. He says “thank you” and turns to his entourage. I am still asked by his team whether I have everything and accompany me outside. For McGregor, the “game” continues. The next journalist is already waiting in the foyer.
A few days later, Conor faced Jose Aldo. He only needed 13 seconds for his promised knockout.
On Sunday night Conor McGregor fights Dustin Poirier. Broadcasts in Germany DAZN the mega-fight from 4 a.m..