In honor of tonight’s fight, I thought I’d write something related to UFC. No, it’s not a short story, but I’m writing about an article I discovered while learning more about the two fighters, Mayweather and McGregor.
Zach Baron, a GQ writer, wrote a striking piece on McGregor. I knew nothing about the MMA fighter except that he’s Irish. After reading this article, I developed a respect for the man. He’s crude, but his determination and loyalty is commendable.
The piece was by no means glorifying the athlete, instead it was an honest account of one writer’s observations. Baron has a poetic style that seems effortless. As someone who knows nothing about McGregor or UFC, I was hooked on each word. It probably helped that McGregor is eccentric:
He travels by convoy. He turns parking lots into acid trips: There’s a green Lamborghini, crouched low like a prayer; a dove gray Rolls-Royce, top down, leather interior as orange as a Florida swamp guide
But what I like most about this piece was Baron’s style. When McGregor said he wanted to give the article clearance before it was released, Baron had to refuse:
He turns to me, suddenly, as if he’s just realized something. “You know what? I like everything we’re talking about here,” he says. He’s enjoying our conversation. He feels comfortable. “But I must get clearance on the article before it goes out. You understand what I’m saying?”
I do. But clearance is not something we give. GQ Style policy. I clear my throat. His face darkens. I’ve seen this expression before, never imagined I’d ever be on the receiving end of it.
“I’ll throw you out onto the motorway right now and run this car over you,” he says, looking straight at me.
Things turned sour pretty quick, but McGregor eventually shrugged it off. What I love about this moment was its ease and clarity. In some sections he used quotation marks in others he doesn’t. What it showed how easy readers can follow without the aide of punctuation. Cormac McCarthy does this trick best, I think. But rarely do I see journalist do this.
Then, the article turned into a direction I least expected:
But meeting the real estate guy fucked [McGregor] up, made him realize something. Fighting was only one possibility among many. There were new avenues and investments to explore. Not just prize money—but ownership, equity, what guys with golden tans might call a controlling interest.
Perhaps I’m prejudice against jocks, but I was utterly surprised to hear McGregor talk about obtaining financial independence and of leaving his child a legacy beyond money and fighting.
The last couple of paragraphs were my favorite:
Like the forces that govern the rest of us don’t apply to him. “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.”
Out in the darkness, past the patio, waves are crashing on the beach. Like something old and violent. Like they’re bringing in something entirely new.
Truly a great piece that I recommend. It turned me into a fan, even if it’s just for the night. So, while the fight rages on I’ll be rooting for McGregor.