Friday 15 December 2017

Revelations about man behind battles are in short supply

Dave Devereux - book review

Notorious by Jack Slack
Notorious by Jack Slack

Conor McGregor is far and away the most recognisable face in the world of the UFC, revolutionising the organisation after rising from collecting the dole in Crumlin to becoming a world famous money printing machine.

It's no surprise then that an author would want to ride his wave of success and bring us the tale of the Dubliner that rose from being an unknown in 2013 to becoming a household name and the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously a few years later.

Jack Slack's offering may be called 'Notorious: The Life and Fights of Conor McGregor', but in truth it's very much concentrated on events in the octagon and the carnival that surrounds it, rather than giving us any real insight into the man behind the knockout left hook and the loud-mouthed, trash-talking persona.

The book does touch on aspects of McGregor's struggles to reach the top, from his early life training with friends in a shed, to throwing away his prospects of a career as a plumber to pursue what seemed like a crazy dream, and how he recovered from a few early setbacks in the fight game to turn things around by learning from his mistakes.

There's no doubting that McGregor is a tremendous talent in the confines of the cage, but outside the heat of battle his ability to sell his pantomime character is unequalled and is as much a reason for his rise through the ranks as his fighting ability. As a non-aficionado of Mixed Martial Arts, one of the more interesting segments is one which highlights the dangers of extreme weight loss through dehydration to make the cut.

A gaunt looking McGregor at the weigh-in the day before a fight when he had to make 145 lb. to compete at featherweight was a familiar and harrowing sight, the effects of draining the body of water before piling on the pounds again prior to the bout, something which unquestionably would have a detrimental effect on the body.

For anybody that has had their head, ostrich-like, buried in the sand for the past couple of years and missed McGregor's meteoric rise to super-stardom, the book would certainly be a handy point of reference to get the wannabe fan up to speed with his fighting highs and lows. Anybody possessing an ability to take in a barrage of technical information like a thirsty sponge would be able to impress their friends down the pub with in-depth analysis of all of McGregor's fights to date.

For the rest of us it's enough to give us a flavour of how McGregor made it to the top through hard work, sheer grit and a larger than life personality; albeit with some favourable fight placement by the powers-that-be in the UFC along the way, although anyone presented with such a cash cow would be foolish not to milk it.

If you approach this offering expecting to root through the bins of McGregor's life or to discover what motivates the man, you'll turn the final page with a sense of disappointment.

However, if you take it for what it is: a detailed and well-written description of each of McGregor's battles within the octagon, the build-up and immediate aftermath, with some technical aspects of the craft interspersed in between, it certainly has its place, giving the reader a better understanding of the intricacies of the sport itself.

If you want to learn more about the inner thoughts of the man staring menacingly at you from the front cover, you'll have to wait until McGregor lets down his guard, and lays bare the real 'Notorious'.

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