Is Conor McGregor Tony Abbott?

Sean Jacobs, Hip Hop Republican, 1 September 2016

Irish mixed martial artist Conor McGregor has returned to the high peaks of stardom and notoriety following his ‘rematch’ win over opponent Nate Diaz. While many don’t usually turn to McGregor as a source of insight on current affairs, it was his recent comment in the lead up to the fight that caught my eye:

I am just trying to do my job and fight here. I am paid to fight. I am not yet paid to promote. I have become lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting. There comes a time when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop. 50 world tours, 200 press conferences, 1 million interviews, 2 million photo shoots, and at the end of it all I’m left looking down the barrel of a lens, staring defeat in the face, thinking of nothing but my incorrect fight preparation.

McGregor’s exaggerations – ‘millions’ of photo shoots and interviews – were clearly angered embellishments to the excessive promotional demands of his federation. Yet it’s his core complaint – hype at the expense of action – that has become a tired feature of many professional arenas, especially Western politics. The incessant demand for news and sensation is shaping and undermining not just the provincial concerns of fight preparation but modern governance itself.

In 2013 conservative Australian prime minister Tony Abbott came to government with a sound commitment to ‘get politics off the front page’, have ‘an adult conversation’ with the Australian people and fulfil an unwritten desire to move away from the demands of a restless news cycle. Abbott, like McGregor, sought space to practice his art. ‘I asked for some leeway,’ lamented McGregor. ‘I did not shut down all media requests. I simply wanted a slight adjustment.’

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