Patrick Freyne: Conor McGregor strikes a blow for his presidency

MMA fighter’s praise for Putin comes during quite a week for preposterous men

Conor McGregor at the World Cup with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photograph: @thenotoriousmma/Instagram

Conor McGregor at the World Cup with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photograph: @thenotoriousmma/Instagram

 

This week, old-time prospector/dandy hybrid Conor McGregor published a picture of himself alongside former KGB agent and topless calendar model Vladimir Putin.

In the post on McGregor’s Instagram page, the thing which will surely eventually replace this newspaper, McGregor said: “Today I was invited to the World Cup final as a guest of Russian president Vladimir Putin. This man is one of the greatest leaders of our time and I was honored to attend such a landmark event alongside him.”

He used the American spelling of “honored”, which was apt really, given how close America and Russia are in these, the last days of democracy.

Vladimir Putin normally doesn’t smile in photographs, unlike us happy schmucks in the decadent West, preferring to deploy an unexpressive line where his mouth should be, whether he be shirtlessly dominating a horse or shirtfully dominating the US president.

In his picture with Conor McGregor, however, he is smiling. The edges of his lips rise, like the fortunes of Russia. His cheeks pop up like apples or, if you like, the corpses of his critics. His eyes squint as though he is looking at your papers during a random search of your house. He looks very happy to be meeting Conor McGregor, who will, after all, probably soon be president of an incorporated Russo-Gaelic state.

McGregor, meanwhile, is dressed in his trademark First Communion suit and is doing his “tough” face and his “put ’em up, put ’em up” fighty arm, fist aloft thing. Looking through his Instagram page, it seems he does this a lot. He does it, I think, to suggest that at any moment he might get angry and strip down to his underpants in order to give you an angry hug. That is, what experts call, “doing an MMA”.

MMA is a sort of violent massage for muscley men and it takes place behind a big fence

Now, some respectable sportsfolk think MMA is stupid and weird. I think this myself, but only because I think most of “the sports” are stupid and weird. Okay, I like some of “the sports”.

I like the one where a human co-operates with a horse and must achieve an objective such as winning a race (this sport I call “We’re not so different you and I”), the one where everyone dresses in the same shirt and gets really drunk and cries (this sport I call “getting married”), and the one in which celestial spheres of different colours ping across a green felt sky towards darkness and oblivion (this sport I call “interplanetary ping ping”).

But what is MMA? Well, it’s a sort of violent massage for muscley men and it takes place behind a big fence. The fence is for our own protection, but it allows more sanctimonious types to shake their fists and imagine that the MMA-men are their neighbours acting out unreasonably next door. Then they get to write a letter of complaint to this paper, unaware that this paper was long ago replaced by Conor McGregor’s Instagram page, where you are no doubt reading this column right now. MMA is fine. I’ve seen worse sports.

In fact, Conor McGregor is the weirdest thing about MMA. He has two belts, which he is very proud of, but this is an impractical number of belts to have when your favoured look is underpants, some shoes and the Irish flag draped over your shoulders.

Okay, I have been informed by an MMA fan that these aren’t proper underpants that McGregor wears but “fighting” underpants and aren’t too different from my special “writing” underpants that HR have been so vocal about.

But enough about underpants. There’s a lot going on in Conor McGregor’s Instagram page. He not only stands with cruel Russian autocrats but also gleeful members of the rap band Migos and a confused-looking Justin Timberlake and beside a picture of Michael D Higgins, which some people might see as a declaration of purpose. There’s also a picture of him standing solemnly beside a statue of the Burger King monarch as though he thinks it’s a real king. God love him, he probably does. And God love us, it probably is.

Shrine to manspreading

His Instagram page is also a shrine to manspreading. Whenever Conor McGregor sits down – on a private jet, in a fancy car, on a jet ski – he does so with his thighs jutting out at right angles from his flanks. Even when he’s walking he does so like a bow-legged Charlie Chaplin, in the grim knowledge that were his knees ever to touch, the universe as we know it would unravel and Ragnarok would begin.

McGregor recently got into a big fight with a bus, smashing a window and hurting several MMA bystanders

There’s more! There is a picture of him holding an energy drink while wearing a sweatshirt declaring the name of the energy drink. He holds this drink with great seriousness as though it were the best and most important energy drink in the world.

“Good grief, this is a good energy drink,” his bulging muscles seem to say. “I will not have a word said against this energy drink. And if you say a word against this energy drink, well then, sir, I will have to challenge you, perchance with fisticuffs.”

There’s a picture of a coin which looks like a euro but has McGregor’s face imprinted on it. This currency will, Putin willing, be in circulation soon. Furthermore, the embossed coin version of McGregor is wearing sunglasses, for though many will die in the foundations of his empire, he will be pretty cool.

What else? Well there’s a picture of him riding a little scooter near his private plane. He does this with a serious expression on his face as if to say, “I, a grown adult on a scooter, command all modes of transport, from those that ascend triumphantly into God’s heavens to those that scoot majestically along God’s Earth.”

Except – and this is why in some pictures on Instagram he’s looking off into the distance as though overtaken by melancholy – when it comes to his ancient enemy “the bus”. He does not command the buses of God’s roads. Indeed, McGregor recently got into a big fight with a bus, smashing a window and hurting several MMA bystanders. He consequently faced charges.

As his fans know too well, the bus tricked him with its bus cunning, forcing McGregor into a situation where he had to have a big violent tantrum rather than use his people-words, which, admittedly, sometimes include homophobic slurs.

Anyway, this detour into Conor McGregor’s Instagram page is a long way of saying that it’s been quite a week for preposterous men. Tech billionaire Elon Musk called a heroic Thai cave rescuer a “pedo” because the man laughed at his tiny submarine (I checked and nobody ever put these words together in a sentence prior to July 2018). And reality television host, and occasional president of America, Donald Trump, mistook the word “would” for the word “wouldn’t”, causing another diplomatic incident.

Meanwhile, here in Ireland we have Conor McGregor, hot on the heels of assaulting a bus, praising a repressive tyrant. I hesitate to say it in case someone with a deranged policy platform is listening, but these days he’s positively presidential.

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