While Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson prepare for their light heavyweight championship match at UFC 206, both men were full of praise for Conor McGregor as he prepares to make history on November 12.
The Irishman battles Eddie Alvarez inside Madison Square Garden, where he aims to become the first fighter to simultaneously hold two world titles in different weight divisions, having defeated Jose Aldo in 13 seconds last year to claim the featherweight crown.
STEVE AUSTIN COMPARISONS
Although many fighters have been critical of McGregor in recent weeks, including Aldo, Max Holloway, Jeremy Stephens, Donald Cerrone and most of all, Gegard Mousasi, Rumble and Cormier have praised Notorious for raising the profile of the sport.
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The champion has even likened him to WWE legend, Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Speaking to Michael Lansberg of TSN in Canada; Cormier – who is an avid wrestling fan – said: “He brings more eyes. I think he’s the anti-hero.
“He is Stone Cold Steve Austin from 2000. The guy that you’re supposed to kinda root against, but you want to root for.
“Everything that he does before would have gotten people to boo you. But it’s like they’ve taken to it. It’s something so different that what they’re used to seeing that people love it. I think it’s fine.”
LARGER THAN LIFE
Johnson was also fine with McGregor’s larger than life antics, explaining: “It sells. It’s for the sport. You gotta have our bad boys and our good guys.
“He brings a lot of attention to the sport, and we need that. We need that to make sure we keep the fans entertained and wanting to see us fight.
“Like I used to tell people when they used to ask about Tito Ortiz. I’m like you’re gonna pay to see that man fight because you want to see him either win, or you want to see him lose. He talks it, and he backs it up. And Conor does the same thing. He’s working magic for the UFC.”
Not everyone is a huge fan of the antics, though. Stars like Mousasi have called out McGregor numerous times, claiming they use controversial antics to build up a profile and their riches, and they use that to get titles shots.
While others have criticised the direction the UFC has gone in general.
They seem to be getting involved in more drama and entertainment rather than the respectfulness you used to see a lot around a decade ago.
Times do change, and it’s good that the sport has found somebody like McGregor who can get eyes on the sport and bring the company more money and success, and other fighters also have him to thank for that.
Although Johnson and Cormier were on the same page during this interview, it’ll be an entirely different story when Rumble gets a second crack at Cormier in Toronto on December 10.
Do you agree with Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier’s comments on Conor McGregor? Have YOUR say in the comments section below.