The fight game is unlike any other area of professional sports. Where the big four professional leagues are established and fans root for their home (or adopted) teams and NASCAR drivers, golfers, tennis players and the like are judged solely on performance, boxers, mixed martial artists and other combatants are still subject to a large amount of promotion — not just of skill, but of personality. There are no seasons in fighting, no double-headers, home-and-away series and there aren’t even many legit rivalries. Thus fight promoters — and rest assured, the UFC is a promoter, not a league — need to sell a fighter’s personality. A UFC fighter’s ability to trash-talk then becomes a huge asset, especially if they can do it well and without crossing any number of vaguely defined “lines in the sand” when it comes to fighter conduct.
Irish MMA superstar Conor McGregor is one of those who do it well, and he was successful in his coming out party this past Saturday in Dublin, knocking out late replacement Diego Brandao in the first round as he’d promised to before the bout. McGregor’s performance made UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Brandao the biggest UFC Fight Pass event to date.
McGregor is a man, it seems, who lives up to his promises — at least thus far.
It does not, however, impress the man who was to be McGregor’s original opponent in Dublin, Cole Miller. Appearing on Sherdog Radio, Miller initially said he had “no comment” on McGregor’s behavior after the UFC event in Dublin (including asking to fight in a stadium next), but dropped the words “preferential treatment” when it came to the Irish fighter.
Ouch. That’s not going to sit well with the UFC.
Miller eventually went on to say this:
“It’s pretty easy to look good when everything’s made for you to look good.”
He later admitted that McGregor was probably good for the featherweight division but blamed that in part on the inability of champion Jose Aldo to draw at the box office, something he believes is a result of a language barrier as Aldo does not speak English fluently.
Miller, who dropped out of the fight with McGregor due to a broken hand, has not done himself any favors with the UFC brass on this one. While criticism of certain Brazilian stars and their inability to bridge the language barrier with North America and Europe has been frequent over the years, rarely does one of the UFC’s own fighters bring the subject up; and even more rarely do they accuse the promotion of showing favoritism towards specific fighters.
Don’t expect to see Miller getting any so-called favorable matchups of his own anytime soon.