In just over a week’s time, we will finally see Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor collide at UFC 194 for the UFC featherweight title. Both men have endured long tough training camp’s and are ready physically but who is ready mentally?
We asked sports psychologist James Barraclough to break down the mental aspect of this fight. James is a lecturer at The Manchester College and is also the author of The MMA Psychology Manual and has been involved in the psychology of MMA since 2003 and has worked with several elite fighters including two world champions and James says this fight will come down to who is ready not just physically but more importantly mentally.
‘At elite level it’s probably mostly mental as physical/technical/tactical tend to balance out, depends on fighters strengths/weaknesses ie ground game/stand up. It’s how fighters deal with mental factors on the
night ie concentration, confidence and dealing with nerves, that’s what it could come down to’.
In the build up to this fight, McGregor has constantly insulted and taunted Aldo but will this benefit McGregor in any way?
‘Trash talking fighters can have positive or negative effect depending on the person on the receiving end and how they handle it. It can unsettle some fighters, others can laugh it off and see through it as mind games. Self-confidence would be massive here. Any insecurity could cause trash talk to be more effective. This would probably need to be managed effectively by Aldo’s team’.
McGregor has constantly stated his mind is bullet proof and many people have agreed that McGregor’s mindset is what separate’s him the most from other athletes but could it also be his downfall?
‘I think an aura of invincibility can be good as it can put doubts in the other fighters mind. Mike Tyson & Muhammad Ali were masters at this. This is a danger of being over confident and believing your own hype which could potentially make you too arrogant and consequently become a bit lazy and complacent. Therefore, you still need to respect your opponent in private if not in public’.
We have seen in McGregor’s previous fights he likes to talk and taunt his opponent’s inside the octagon, is this another mental strategy and more importantly is it effective?
‘Talking to your opponent may be effective again dependent on your opponent’s mindset. It can undermine them if they’re vulnerable. An MMA coach I worked with was expert at this from the corner, constantly talking to his own fighter but in a way that chipped away at the other fighters confidence’.
Would you consider McGregor’s mindset the strongest we have seen in the UFC?
‘I would certainly agree that McGregor is mentally tough, he talks the talk but also walks the walk! I think being arrogant is excusable if you’re that good. However, as I mentioned above he needs to ensure that he doesn’t start to slacken off. An example I’ve used in the past is rocky 3 the first time he fights clubber Lang and takes victory for granted and loses! I know it’s fiction but art imitates life’.
James says McGregor’s mind games could be the extra 1% difference in him unifying the UFC featherweight title and uses Tyson Fury’s antics as a perfect example.
‘Whats very topical now is how Tyson Fury got into Klitschko’s head last week. There was the bat man stuff, and then making them change the ring and Klitschko not being able to wrap his hands in private. There can be a tiny fraction of 1% difference between winning & losing so top athletes use whatever they can, what Dave Brailsford at British cycling called marginal gains. That could be the difference in this fight’.
For all the build up to UFC 194 and all your latest news in the world of MMA make sure to follow MMA Latest News on Facebook and Twitter.
[Watch] First trailer for Conor McGregor: Notorious released
Many have wondered when we would get to see Conor McGregor have his own documentary film in cinemas. After months of waiting and teasing at it through social media we finally have the initial trailer. The trailer shows some fantastic little clips from throughout his career. From a first glance this is without a doubt one to be looking forward to, enjoy. Conor McGregor: Notorious will hit theatres November.
What must Conor McGregor do to be considered the undisputed G.O.A.T?
In November 2016, Conor McGregor cemented his legacy as an all time great by becoming the first simultaneous two weight world champion holding both the Featherweight and Lightweight belts. In that year McGregor also won three fights at three different weight classes.
“The Notorious One” has the fourth highest win percentage in the UFC at 90%, and he owns the fastest finish in a UFC title fight. This may upset a few MMA purists as McGregor only has 10 UFC fights to his name, but he is certainly in the G.O.A.T discussion now more than ever after his recent bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
There are three possible ways to define the greatest of all time.
- Whether or not the individual is a pioneer of the sport and earns plaudits for their innovation and creativity, e.g. Royce Gracie is a perfect example.
- Whether the fighter has done a lot to help develop and grow the sport e.g. Chuck Liddell isn’t always top of everyone’s list but he’s always in the conversation due to the way he brought the UFC to mainstream audiences.
- Judging a fighter on their skill set and MMA record, e.g. Jon Jones who has a perfect MMA record with some high calibre opponents on his list of victims.
Conor McGregor fits in to each category on this list and deserves to be in the G.O.A.T discussion, but he’s not quite the undisputed number one just yet. Here are some of the things McGregor needs to do to become the undisputed greatest of all time.
Defend His Belt
What do Demetrious Johnson, GSP, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones all have in common? They all have multiple title defences and they’re all in the G.O.A.T discussion because of it. Jon Jones has the least out of those named competitors with 8 consecutive title defences. Conor McGregor currently has 0 title defences despite being a UFC champion since December 2015.
In defence of McGregor every time it’s looked like he would be defending his belt a much bigger opportunity has arisen. When the time came to defend his Cage Warriors belts he was off to the UFC.
After winning his featherweight title at UFC 194, he was scheduled to make history by facing Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight belt at UFC 196, before facing Diaz. After losing on March 5th, McGregor then re-matched Diaz in the biggest fight in UFC history with the event playing host to the UFC buy rate record with roughly 1.6 million buys.
Then it was time to make history at UFC 205 where he became the first simultaneous two weight world champion. And when it finally looked like he would defend his belt he faced Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the biggest fight of all time for $100 million.
But now it’s finally time for McGregor to defend his belt. I’m not necessarily saying he has to match Jones’ 8 title defences, as I believe he will retire long before he even gets there. But maybe 3 or 4 title defences against competitors like Diaz, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will prove he is championship material, and has what it takes to keep hold of the belt in a shark tank division stacked filled with trained killers.
It would be a move to silence the haters and stake his claim as the best to ever do it.
Become the First Fighter to Beat Khabib Nurmagomedov
McGregor is no stranger to doing something no other man has ever done before. So it would be no surprise to see him be the first fighter to beat Nurmagomedov.
Say what you like about Khabib, whether you think he’s an elite fighter or just your average Joe with a padded record (he’s not), but there’s one thing you have to say about him, he’s undefeated.
Fans on Twitter are constantly claiming Khabib is the man to dethrone McGregor. If that’s the case, then it would be equally impressive to see McGregor defend his crown against Khabib and hand him his first loss, adding another historic moment to his storied career. It is a win that would truly legitimise his G.O.A.T status.
Win the Third Fight Against Nate Diaz
McEnroe had Borg. Brady had Peyton Manning. Messi has Ronaldo. And Conor McGregor has Nate Diaz. Every great needs a great rival to make them better. Just look at Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones for example, those two men pushed and motivated each other to be better for years.
The problem with these great rivalries is that they have to be won to secure your legacy, nobody remembers the loser. Winning the trilogy fight against Nate would make Conor the clear winner in this rivalry and answer all questions asked from his doubters, it would see him earn a huge amount of respect and would catapult him to a legendary status.
However, the flip side to that is that if Nate won the third fight then Conor has even more questions asked of him, he may lose some of his star power and could also drop out of the G.O.A.T discussion.
Win the Welterweight Title
McGregor has already won the featherweight and lightweight belts, but he has claimed he’s coming for “all the belts” and I believe him.
If McGregor was the first man to become a three weight World Champion it would be hard to argue he is not the greatest mixed martial artist ever. Especially if he was to beat a top level fighter like Tyron Woodley, GSP or Robbie Lawler to become the welterweight champion. It is another impressive feat that would put him above the rest. It’s a big ask but that’s why it would make him the G.O.A.T.
Stay Clean and Know When it’s the Right Time to Retire
It sounds simple but one of the things that has hurt some of MMA’s biggest stars be considered the greatest has been their inability to stay clean and leaving the game before their inevitable decline.
Some notable stars like Chuck Liddell and B.J Penn’s cases of being the G.O.A.T have been damaged by the later stages of their careers, where they could not perform like they were capable of in their prime, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many fans who may only remember the last few fights they had.
If McGregor quits whilst he’s ahead he won’t be fighting unnecessarily and tarnishing his legacy by competing when his chin has gone, and his athleticism has declined.
If McGregor can stay clean, which I have no doubt he will as he has always been an honest fighter, then he already has one up on those that have been caught taking steroids. Fighters like Jones and Silva’s legacies have not been ruined by testing positives but people will always view them differently because of it.
Conor has always made his intentions clear, “Get in. Get rich. Get Out” and a retirement in his early 30’s is more than likely, especially with a smart coaching team around him who want to see him happy and healthy. We will look back on his career fondly rather than thinking what could have been.
Let us know what you think Conor McGregor must do to be considered the G.O.A.T.
Seriously, How is Joanna Jedrzejczyk Not in the Top 5 P4P Rankings?!
Honest to God question here, how is Joanna Jedrzejczyk not in the top 5 of the UFC’s Pound for Pound rankings?
Jedrzejczyk is arguably the greatest female fighter of all time, yet she’s stuck behind three fighters who don’t even have a title defense on their record. Yes, these fighter rankings don’t hold much weight but put some respect on her name. Ranking Joanna at number seven is absolute blasphemy.
The amount of disrespect the UFC shows to their fighters is at an all-time high so we shouldn’t really be surprised here. It’s understandable that Joanna is behind the likes of Conor McGregor and Demetrious Johnson in the rankings — but after that, it can be argued that she deserves that number three spot on the list.
Let’s take a look at just a few of Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s accomplishments:
- Five successful title defenses (second most in UFC women’s division history)
- A perfect 14-0 record, 8-0 in the UFC
- Most leg kicks in a fight in UFC history
- Highest significant strikes thrown in a UFC championship bout
- Highest significant strikes differential in a UFC championship bout
Joanna has more title defenses than Conor McGregor, Stipe Miocic, Max Holloway, Daniel Cormier, and Cody Garbrandt — COMBINED. That alone should at least warrant her a top five spot on the list, yet all five of those fighters aforementioned are ranked ahead of her.
The common argument against Joanna is the “lack of competition” that she has faced, and while that is partially true, let’s not forget about the “competition” Demetrious Johnson has been up against — and he’s sitting comfortably at number one on the list. Also, we just saw how vicious both Jessica Andrade and Claudia Gadelha are at UFC Japan, and Joanna dominated both women and virtually neutralized their attacks. So that flawed “lack of competition” argument is irrelevant.
It’s about time that Joanna Jedrzejczyk starts getting the respect she deserves as a UFC champion. She is undoubtedly the best striker in the women’s division and may be the best striker overall on the UFC roster. Joanna has the second most title defenses currently of a UFC champion and if that doesn’t earn her a top three spot on the list I don’t know what will.
If top three is a little too rich for your blood, that’s understandable. But there is no way she should be outside of the top five and there is no arguing that. As Khabib would say, “This is number one bullsh*t!”
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