This weekend the world witnessed “The Notorious” Conor McGregor shock the MMA world when he knocked out the legendary Jose Aldo Jr. in 13 seconds. The shocking win has netted him more than $500,000, but more than likely has shot his net worth into the stratosphere. What is even more impressive is the never ending mind games that McGregor has played against his opponent. For over the last year the new Featherweight Champion has talked and talked and talked about how he is the man, Aldo is done, and he will knock him out in the first round. Pretty strong words for someone relatively new to the MMA game. He recently spoke to GQ Magazine and as you will read, his confidence is sky high.
“AC: If you don’t beat Aldo in December…
CM: [Interrupts loudly.] What? What are you talking about? I have beaten him already. He is dead. Look at his body language. His body is weak and his mind is weaker. I can smell the lack of confidence. If the mind is not in it, the body won’t follow. He cannot beat me. He knows it. It’s why he went running last time.
AC: But for all you know Aldo feels just as confident as you do.
CM: No way. I can hear it in his voice, I can see it in his eyes, I know when a man is beaten, and he is beaten mentally. I still don’t think he will show. I am trying to be optimistic but I am never wrong, I always predict the outcome of my fights and I am never wrong.”
Can two athletes, unquestionably, at their top of their game, lose their focus? Can a World Champion who was undefeated in the last ten years, succumb to the pressure of words? There is no real answer to that, but to experts in the field, the words exchanged tells a whole other story. Psychologist James Barraclough said the verbal battle being waged between both men could be the difference between a win and loss.
“At elite level it’s mostly mental, as physical, technical and tactical aspects of the game tend to balance out. It’s how fighters deal with mental factors on the night concentration, confidence and dealing with nerves, that’s what it could come down to.
“Trash talking fighters can have a positive or negative effect depending on the person on the receiving end and how they handle it.
“It can unsettle some fighters, others can laugh it off and see through it as mind games.
“Self-confidence would be massive here. Any insecurity could cause trash talk to be more effective.
“This would probably need to be managed effectively by Aldo’s team.”
Did Aldo’s defeat, by the man who has been unrelentless in his pursuit, happen the way it should? If you ask one fighter no, if you ask the other he’d tell you it ended just as he predicted.