McGregor went to ‘dark places’ with his trash talk, and paid the price – MMA analyst Robin Black
“McGregor is unafraid to go to the dark places – he will say things about family, he will say things about country. But once you open that box you go to those emotionally triggering, powerful things, this provokes a reaction. The temperature was raised and it popped,” said Black, who was present at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 229, in reference to McGregor’s baiting of his opponent in the weeks before the fight.
McGregor mocked Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Islamic faith, offered the teetotaller whisky, and insulted members of his family – all taboos in the Dagestani culture to which he belongs, unlike personal taunts between men.
“When McGregor tries to go after people and use words and ideas that try to elevate the temperature of the opponent, he does it intentionally, so that he can take advantage of their emotion,” said Black, noting that on the night, Khabib, who submitted the Irishman with a rear naked choke in round 4, was “dominant” throughout the fight.
Black, who has himself appeared in MMA fights alongside his media and music career, believes that despite the genuine bad blood, and the inevitable legal, financial and sporting ramifications of the post-fight brawl, a rematch is likely – in fact more so after the battle was taken outside the cage.
“Before I said that if McGregor lost, he might retire. Now, I think there is no likelihood of that – because this is unfinished. All McGregor will be thinking about right now is Khabib,” said Black.
While Black said that the conflict will likely ensure greater fees and more popularity for both participants in the age of social media and pay-per-view, he believed the scuffles overshadowed both Khabib's skill inside the ring, and McGregor's clever, if ultimately futile strategy for dethroning the unbeaten champ.
"I spend a lot of time telling people that this is the most beautiful sport in the world. But when they watch those scenes, they may disagree, and I think that is a bad thing for MMA. But when you talk about the fight itself, Khabib is a special, wonderful combat artist," Black said via Skype.