What Conor McGregor and Donald Trump have in common . . . And it ain’t pretty

New Yorker born into riches and former apprentice appeal to same demographic

For all the puerile trash-talking and braggadocio, both men now find themselves in remarkably similar, awkward situations.

For all the puerile trash-talking and braggadocio, both men now find themselves in remarkably similar, awkward situations.

 

When Conor McGregor went to war with UFC last week, there was something eerily familiar about his line of complaint and angle of attack. Was it arguing normal rules should not apply to him because he’s special? Or blaming female reporters for trying to hitch their career stars to his wagon? Maybe it was the brash way he asserted that his absence generated more publicity than the event he refused to attend? These all sounded uncannily like points made by Donald Trump when he boycotted a Fox News presidential debate back in January.

Trump’s temper tantrum came, among other reasons, because he was irked at Fox’s Megyn Kelly who, in his distorted mind, was exploiting his candidacy to boost ratings on her nightly show. Which sounds a lot like McGregor lamenting having to talk “to some lady that deep down doesn’t give a fuck about what I’m doing, but just wants some sound bites so she can maybe get her little tight ass a nice raise”. Even the Dubliner’s supplementary boast that he’d already been responsible for several others getting raises also sounded positively Trumpian.

“Donald can shut his big, fat mouth,” said McGregor last November, after the Republican frontrunner had disparaged Ronda Rousey. “I don’t give a f**k about Donald Trump.”

Eloquent statements

Trump and McGregor contend, perhaps correctly, that they get more attention because they deserve it. In the relentless and often insufferable quest to push their brands, each is liable to say anything in front of a microphone.

One labels a Russian-born fighter based in Germany a “little Nazi” and informs Brazilians that in a different time he’d have invaded the favela and killed all those not fit to work. The other vilifies Mexican immigrants as rapists, announces plans to repatriate 11 million of them and to build a 40-foot high, 1800-mile long wall to keep them from returning.

The New Yorker born into immense riches and the former plumbing apprentice from Crumlin are appealing to the same demented demographic with that kind of inflammatory language.

Whether shilling for votes or pay-per-views, there are no illegitimate targets. Nate Diaz’ hometown of Stockton is full of snitches that will be taken out by the Dubliner. Ted Cruz is not a natural born citizen and his wife is uglier than Melania Trump. Distasteful, deliberately offensive but, at a time when the sports and political worlds are matching shades of beige, broad strokes in primary colours are destined to impact.

In this regard, both campaigns are hallmarked by a narcissism so excessive that it’s almost (if not quite) entertaining, a tendency to bloviate that inspires curious levels of devotion, and an understanding that, in the social media era, exaggeration matters more than exactitude.

Nobody knows the true extent of Trump’s wealth and his supposed glittering business career is pockmarked with spectacular failures and stunning lies. Yet, plenty Americans say they intend to vote for him because they believe he has the business acumen to revitalise the economy. Never mind evidence, enjoy the myth.

Nobody has any idea how much money McGregor has wrung out of the notoriously parsimonious UFC but history tells us it’s far less than the telephone numbers bandied out by those eager to burnish his legend. Why the financial hyperbole? Because if the sums he’s drawing down are stratospheric then his achievements in the octagon are rendered more significant. Never mind questions about whether UFC has smoothed his path, put the emperor’s image on the coin now before it turns out he has no clothes.

Like true 21st century shucksters, this pair of unlikely bedfellows are not blinding them with science but with bling. Trump puts fancy stickers with his logo on the private plane to hide the true age of the craft, to give off the air of glamour and to reel in the suckers. McGregor quips that three people died making his watch and his socks are worth more than the suit worn by an opponent whom he then calls a “broke bitch”. The type of desperately adolescent swagger that convinces the all-too-easily fooled he’s living the dream.

Conventional rules

Republican Party

In the space of four days next November, America elects a president and Madison Square Garden hosts New York’s first-ever UFC show. Trump will co-headline one event and McGregor the other. After six more months of tiresome effrontery and vulgar excess. Of course.

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