Conor McGregor is the notorious cardinal of bad taste
HIS invincibility exposed as a crude, hollow, eight-sided fiction, Conor McGregor made a last feeble lunge to clamp reality in a killing chokehold.
"I'm humble in victory or defeat," declared the baron of bombast, the fast-car aficionado executing the illusion of a high-speed, tyre-screeching U-turn away from a life of loud, offensive, swagger.
Sin City observed McGregor's rewrite of history and wondered if Nate Diaz had stolen his mind along with his myth.
There are 1,025,109 words in the English language and "humble" is maybe the last of them we might attach to The Notorious.
Or, at least, after last weekend's great hubris-propelled tumble, second-last behind "unbeatable".
McGregor as poster boy for the self-effacing seems as unlikely as Kim Kardashian revealing a life-long allergy to publicity.
Here is the peacock who envisioned a 20-story banner of himself on the Las Vegas strip, the prancing, narcissist who imagined the fight of the millennium as Conor McGregor v Conor McGregor.
A man who talked big, partially because it sold tickets and propelled him along the road to riches, but partially, too, you felt, because he enjoyed making other people feeling small.
Among his Prince Charming flourishes: "My thoughts on Denis Silver are he is a midget, German, steroid head."
He walked through life high on the perfume of his own achievement, boasting relentlessly about his wealth, the working class kid revelling in his new-found status as king of the material world.
The Dubliner long ago constructed about his ego a Donald Trump-style wall: Rather than Mexicans, the towering fortification was designed to prevent modesty from trespassing into his world.
Here are a sample tray of the humble hero's soundbites:
"I own this town, I own Rio de Janeiro, so for him to say that he is the king and I am the joker, if this was a different time I would invade his favela on horseback and would kill anyone who wasn't fit to work."
"Look into my eyes little Brazilian: Voce vai morrer (you are going to die)."
"These custom-made suits aren't cheap. This solid gold pocket watch, three people died making this watch."
"No one can take my left-hand shot. Everyone breaks and he is broke."
"If he took a can from this table and told me to come and get it, I'd drill it through his head."
"He's a quiet, little hillbilly from the back arse of nowhere. His cousin is probably named Cletus."
"I see fighters make funny videos about me and stick them on Facebook and get 20 likes. When I make a video, I sell it to Fox and make seven figures."
"A man that wears a suit as good as this does not feel pressure. However, moving around is difficult. In and out of the gym, I have to dodge pantyhose."
"I get paid loads of cash for beating the crap out of people. And I'm very good at it."
"It is a beautiful thing when you have the capacity to predict the future and that is what I believe I have."
"There are two things that I really like to do. Whoop ass and look good. I'm doing one now and on Saturday I’ll be doing the other."
On Saturday last, though, as he tapped down on the canvas and departed forever the land of certainty, he didn't look quite so fetching. And so came the unconvincing U-turn.
If cage fighting is sport's cathedral of the obnoxious, then McGregor rejoiced in his role as the unapologetic cardinal of bad taste.
Even alongside the coarse taunting, the crass put-downs, the offensive one-liners that are the UFC's currency of choice, McGregor's brash self-promotion and barbaric pronouncements stood out.
In the run-up to the Diaz fight he effectively announced himself as bigger than his sport, proposed a Conor McGregor weight division.
A polarising figure, his supporters found penetrating wit in each verbal volley.
But others simply held their nose and hoped the smell might recede.
Dana White, meanwhile, thanked the Lord for sending him his own private ATM.
Yet for the trick to keep working, there was one essential: The Notorious had to keep winning.
He had to keep destroying bodies, feed the notion of a warrior who could not be broken.
The moment McGregor was unable to back up the loudmouth shtick in the Octagon, he ceased to be a cocky champion and became instead something closer to an over-inflated parody of himself. Last week, the walls came tumbling down.
The Irishman surrendered his unbeaten UFC record not to a champion, not to a superstar, but to a journeyman. A nobody who took the fight at five minutes' notice. McGregor's vanity blocked out legitimate concerns about going to war with a much bigger man.
Instead he resorted to the language of the Serengeti.
"I'm a lion in there and I'm going to eat you alive," he told Diaz.
"Your little gazelle friends are going to be looking through the cage watching your carcass getting eaten alive and all they're going to say is 'we're never crossing this river again'."
Well, it turns out the gazelle had teeth and he chewed-up the self-appointed king of the jungle.
McGregor tapped out and the aura that is the foundation stone on which his illusion was built collapsed.
Forgive us, then, if we suggest the dash toward the sandbar of humility was no more than an attempt to avoid drowning in the whipped-up tsunami of comeuppance.
The vanquished frequently resort to modesty when their limitations are exposed.
"I like Vegas," McGregor had announced before his conversion to restraint, "I've buried three bodies clean out here and Saturday night will be a fourth.
"The dirt is clean, you can scoop it up and stuff bodies in there."
On Saturday it was a myth as much as man entombed in the Vegas earth.
However clean the dirt, disinterring the aura of The Notorious will take some doing.