Sometimes for fans and pundits, a desire to create narrative can shift into overdrive. Especially in an arena like combat sports where narrative and drama dictate so much of the interest that brings fans to the sport. And over the course of Conor McGregor’s recent stardom one of the narratives that never quite found a footing in the real world is the idea that Conor McGregor is in competition with Ronda Rousey.
Partially this is driven by McGregor’s own obvious desire to be the “face” of the UFC. His trumpeting of his own record breaking PPV numbers and his desire to be the highest paid athlete in the promotion. How else could he make that happen, but at Ronda Rousey’s expense? The other part of this has been the continuous, “Could Ronda Rousey beat a man in the Octagon?” chatter that followed so much of her success. If she thinks she could beat Cain Velasquez or Floyd Mayweather on the right day, then why not Conor McGregor.
The reality, however, is that there’s never been a hint of competitive animosity between the two athletes. A point driven home by McGregor himself in his recent PPV interview in Manchester (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“When Ronda lost, I woke up to all these messages. ‘Now let’s see what they do.’ And I’m like, what? I love Ronda, I was always a big supporter of Ronda,” McGregor said last week in Manchester.
“Then she loses that second one and people are trying to make me celebrate, ‘now they’ve got nobody.’ That’s a wrong mindset. I don’t celebrate another’s defeat like that. That’s weak. A weak individual does that. People were trying to celebrate when I lost who had nothing to do with it. That ain’t the sign of a champion. That ain’t the sign of a true champion, so I couldn’t believe it.”
Even when fans and media pointed to the obvious inconsistencies with how the UFC has handled Rousey’s media duties in comparison with McGregor’s (the UFC pulled McGregor from UFC 200 for missing a press conference), McGregor has been quick to dismiss the comparison:
“We’re in on it on our own,” McGregor said. “What someone else is or isn’t allowed, and what somebody does or doesn’t do, has no effect on me and what I do. I’m doing what I do. She’s doing what she’s doing. Everyone else is doing what they’re doing. It is what it is. She didn’t have to do the media and got away with that — that’s great. If they had done that for me, I probably would’ve showed up at UFC 200.
“But we split the card. UFC 200 did great numbers, UFC 202 did great numbers. It also gave me that extra bit of time, that looking back, I probably needed. I probably needed that extra time. So everything worked out perfectly for me. So I’m sitting there and I heard that she requested no media, and they gave her media, I was happy for her because that’s what she asked for. And then I also didn’t give a f*ck. I was just chilling.”
There’s no shortage of drama surrounding McGregor’s career. He’s got his beef running with Floyd Mayweather, a potential trilogy with Nate Diaz, his complete dismissal of opponents like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, and an ongoing battle for power with the UFC itself. More than enough to keep anyone invested. But, it doesn’t look like a battle for the spotlight with Ronda Rousey is ever going to be part of it.