Roy Curtis: Threat to quit from McGregor more mouthing from bionic gob
SO, Conor McGregor wants to surrender to his inner Trappist, to salsa to the sound of monastic silence.
All of a sudden, the baron of bombast, the sultan of showmanship, craves low-key, low-profile invisibility.
The Notorious has issued a self-imposed gagging order on the world's first bionic gob.
Sssshhhhh…he says, grabbing the designer McGregor megaphone that is his closest friend, I'm saying nothing other than on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and…
Sssshhhhh…as he boasts and preens, talks himself up, the elevator of his ego clacking off the floors on the journey to the penthouse of attention-seeking bravado.
Conor being Conor, he has a funny way of hitting the mute button, a unique take on how to disappear.
He relocates to the wilderness by jumping aboard the express train for Spotlight Central, stopping at the towns of Look-At-Me, Show-Me-The-Money and I'm-Da-Man.
He shouts his vow of quiet contemplation from the rooftops.
McGregor is the publicity junkie who insists he is going cold turkey even as the world watches him filling the syringe and mainlining on another one-man, trash-talking soap opera.
First, he creates a retirement ruse, designed to spook Dana White into opening his wallet and to draw millions to his social media door.
Which, of course, is precisely what you do when you want to be left alone: 'Throw a party in solitary'.
Next, he changes his mind, whips up a mine-is-bigger-than-yours row with White and the UFC, throws his toys from the pram and indulges in some gratuitously toxic misogyny.
He's done with "talking to some lady that deep down doesn't give a f*** about what I'm doing, but just wants some sound bites so she can maybe get her little tight ass a nice raise."
And, to think, there are some who think McGregor lacks class.
So this is how a 21st-century John the Baptist retreats to the isolation of the desert: All aboard, the attention-seeking bandwagon which will shortly be leaving Conor Junction.
All of a week after Joao Carvalho's lonely and premature death following a terrible beating in a Dublin MMA cage comes this latest vulgar stunt.
Let's translate some of Conor's statement, or at least flavour it with the condiment of cynicism.
"I am just trying to do my job and fight here": I'm gonna' scare that White f****** shitless, show him what UFC really stands for – Uncle f***in' Conor, baby.
"I am paid to fight. I am not yet paid to promote": Show me the nine-figure contract Dana, rub greenback oil on my ego, a man's got to put fuel in his fleet of luxury f****** cars.
"I am facing a taller, longer and heavier man. I need to prepare correctly this time": I can't accept that my invincibility is a conceit and that I got my ass whooped good and proper last time.
"There had been ten million dollars allocated for the promotion of the event…I then went and tripled it. All with one tweet": I am a bad-ass, motherf****** legend.
"I must isolate myself now": Look at me, think about me, talk about me, worship me.
This past week's drama-queen melodrama is, first and last, a power play.
McGregor has made millions from the octagon but the peacock wants more: He resents that he is also lining White's pockets. He wants to rip up his old contract.
He wants control.
It is a high-risk strategy.
The Nate Diaz fight illustrated that McGregor is subordinate to the image he shamelessly peddled.
He is no ethereal invincible, not some dancing superman of the cage, something less than the Second Coming.
McGregor is a fast-talking narcissist, a good fighter, a great salesman.
Even those of us who regard MMA as a gruesome, unregulated orgy of medieval barbarity cannot deny that within that primitive and ugly world, Conor is box office.
There is a huge, cash-rich market for his brand of brash, boastful self-worship; McGregor is pay-per-view gold.
He argues that he is not paid to promote: But that is precisely why he is paid. Promotion – delivering an avalanche of one-liners – is what he does, where his greatest talent lies.
At times, fighting just seems like a little nixer on the side.
Despite Diaz illustrating that it is only Conor's ego that is bullet-proof, that the Dubliner is not untouchable, he remains – comfortably – the UFC's biggest draw.
Why? Because his audience are addicted to the outside-the-octagon braggadocio that has the rest of us stifling a yawn.
His "retirement" announcement broke sporting retweet records, cyberspace feasting on the cheese of his contrived game-playing.
"Numbers rule in this game – and I'm the ruler of the numbers," he proclaimed last year.
There it is, the challenge to White, hinting at a breakaway (almost impossible under UFC contracts) or retirement; a negotiating tool, upping the ante, wanting more.
White is no fool. He understands that McGregor is his ATM.
Defeat to Diaz weakened the Notorious. A second loss to the same opponent would go close to destroying him.
Mix the ingredients of the previous two paragraphs and you produce the stew of compromise.
Pragmatically, it suits both White and McGregor to do a deal, one that will swell Conor's pay packet while most likely erasing a dangerous fight with Diaz from UFC 200.
Instead, Conor can go back to beating carefully-selected featherweight division opponents.
And back in the monastery, he will interrupt those hours of silent contemplation only to count his millions and ponder his magnificence.