Conor McGregor reading 'mean tweets' from fans is still brilliant

With less than three weeks to go until fight night, anticipation continues to grow for the return of Conor McGregor to the UFC Octagon.

The Irishman will face Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246 in Las Vegas on January 18 – with MMA fans keen to see how the biggest name in the sport fares in his first fight in more than 15 months.

However, many have noted a change in McGregor’s public persona in recent years.

Back in 2015, when McGregor first started to cement himself as a headliner for the UFC, he openly took on as many media engagements as his time would allow. The combination of his authentic Irish charm and steadfast self belief, together with a lightning quick wit, rapidly endeared ‘Notorious’ to fans around the world – even before he had challenged for a UFC championship.

Nowhere was this better exemplified than when McGregor responded to the “mean tweets” of fans during a promotional segment with BT Sport ahead of his clash with Chad Mendes at UFC 189 in July 2015.

McGregor was in rare form as he responded to the savage jibes of fans, at one point laughing gleefully after reading a tweet in which a fan declared: “I’d happily watch Conor McGregor die!”

McGregor also playfully mocked the appearance of one Twitter user who had stated: “I actually hate Conor McGregor so much!”

McGregor also had fun with comparisons made by fans between himself and divisive UK media personality Katie Hopkins. Throughout the entire segment, McGregor’s willingness to enter into the spirit of the occasion and banter with fans made it hard not warm to him on some level.

In recent times, McGregor has noticeably reduced his media presence.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=lc7m5jmCjzQ

His pre-fight promotional work now tends to be limited to just a few select press conferences. Given how entertaining his previous media appearances have been, fans have been disappointed not to have seen more of that side of McGregor in the last few years.

The difference in demeanour is certainly understandable though.

More than four years have passed since the Mendes fight and much has changed in McGregor’s life in that time. Not least, he has become a father of two children – landmarks which will surely have matured him as a human being, but also have made him far more conscious of how he presents himself in public.

The decision of McGregor to withdraw from such engagements may also be down to the fact that he now simply has less need to promote his fights.

Indeed, McGregor was placed 21st on the Forbes list of the highest paid athletes in 2019, pulling in a reported $47 million.

This feat is particularly impressive given that McGregor did not actually fight over that period.

Given the above, it is likely that McGregor will choose to focus on training for – rather than frequently promoting – his fight with the Cerrone at UFC 246.

McGregor will no doubt have a lucrative career as a guest speaker when his combat sports career ends, though, meaning that fans will have the opportunity to see him in a far more accessible environment.

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