UFC megastar Conor McGregor is on the cover of GQ Style’s latest issue, and the magazine had Zach Baron profile him for the cover story. The story kicks off with McGregor rolling his eyes at the $27,000 tab he racked up at a luxury clothing store before showing off a airplane hangar’s worth of comically gaudy cars. Over the course of 4,000 words and a day spent with McGregor, it becomes abundantly clear that he is a patently ridiculous figure who has become wealthy and powerful to such a degree that his day-to-day life bears no resemblance to yours or mine or anyone outside of the richest echelon of society.
This is a profile of a man who can’t remember what exotic islands he’s been to: “We’re just flowing. We’re on the earth. We’re just traveling from place to place. I’m fucking everywhere.” He speaks in staccato boasts about his bona fides and everything he says sounds like a line in a biopic about Conor McGregor written and directed by Conor McGregor.
“It’s all in the nutsack. It’s all in the ball sack. I just have confidence that comes from my big ball sack, and I know when I smack you, you’re going down. And that’s it.”
“I’m dropping $27,000. It’s about my eighth time in the last week. And you can’t drop, like, a pocket square in? Are you fucking serious?!”
“They all want to be me a little. That’s a Drake line. All them boys want to be me a little. And it’s true as fuck.”
How do you feel about that?
“I mean, I don’t blame them. If I wasn’t me, I’d want to be me, too.”
“Honestly, my fist is bigger than his head. I sleep people. I put people unconscious. I’m stating facts. If I hit that man, his head is gonna go into the bleachers. You understand that? If I crack that little head of his, it’s gonna go clean off his shoulders and up into the bleachers.”
“I’ve just climbed to another level of this, that I can just reach out and get whatever I desire, at any moment,” he says. “That’s where I’m at right now.”
At the end of the piece—after Conor jaws off about how he whooped Nate Diaz’s ass and he’ll whoop Floyd Mayweather’s ass, after a joking threat to throw Baron out of the car onto the Pacific Coast Highway, after he speaks with glowing reverence about a perfectly tanned real estate owner inspiring him to buff up his personal brand—McGregor briefly deigns speak about broader societal issues. Well, sort of.
Baron asks him about the notion of a fighters’ union, and in typical McGregorian bombast, he says that fighters should try and focus their will on achieving their goals through positive energy rather than waiting for someone to fix their problems for them. It worked for him, so anyone who demands better treatment is subverting their own positive will.
He takes a similar stance when talking about Trump and protestors. His comments about America’s new president have gotten as much play as anything (save perhaps his desire to look at the asses of Kardashians like museum pieces) in the inevitable aggregation and reaction cycle that comes with a big tentpole profile like this. His take on protesting the president aligns with his views on a fighters’ union:
“When you start blaming others for your situation, like I see all these people screaming at these politicians”—he was in New York to fight Alvarez, he says, right after the election. The streets were full of anti-Trump protesters. “And I was like, ‘It’s the wrong mind-set!’”
So you’re saying it doesn’t matter if it’s Donald Trump or if it’s somebody else?
“No! It doesn’t. People like to blame others. I think a person should just look at their own situation, look around them, find out what they wish to do, and seek and go and do that. And that’s it. I was in New York when all of that was going down, the protests in New York with the Trump thing. It’s like, ‘Trump, out!’
Right. Donald Trump might not affect my life or your life much. But I think it might be very different for other people.
“Yeah, but you think it’s actually him that’s gonna…? Everybody’s just pointing at him, and I don’t know. Rather than putting your energy into pointing the finger at somebody else, figure out what it is you need to do and do it, and do it right, and get it done, and get your situation right. And if a person does that, then their life will get better. Standing on a fucking picket…I don’t know.”
On one hand, McGregor’s contention that the leaders in power can’t affect your everyday life or otherwise fuck you over if you have a positive mindset and simply find what you want to do then do it is breathtakingly naive and wrongheaded. Urging people who could have or are having their lives ruined to stop “blaming others for your situation” is dangerous rhetoric that obscures all manner of ghoulish people and institutions who are actively worsening people’s lives. But McGregor’s apolitical appeal to pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps is the sort of take you’d expect him to have, because it more or less worked out that way for him.
McGregor used to work as a plumber, scraping by on welfare checks in Ireland. Instead of protesting The Man, he became a fighter, and is now one of the most famous athletes in the world and helped the UFC take its final step from fringe bloodsport to $4.2 billion business. Of course he’s going to scoff at the suggestion that a politician can impact your life. He punched his way out, and now lives a life without fear, repercussions, or financial difficulties. That doesn’t make what he said any less incorrect, but it’s a good reminder not to turn to McGregor to receive advice on how to avoid being crushed by the gears of the machine, and not to put too much stock in how he sees the world.