Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Conor McGregor’s Fans

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L) and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor face off during their official weigh-in at T-Mobile Arena on August 25, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada
AFP

Conor McGregor can’t lose.

He flies home to Dublin from Las Vegas with something north of $100 million, more money than all 24 of his mixed-martial arts fights earned him. His name, the biggest in a niche sport, now rivals in recognition any athlete’s in the world, such are the wages of trash talk in the Age of the Troll. Like a Gorgon entering the Miss Universe pageant, henceforth we talk of his courage and guts and boldness and brashness even (especially) if the outcome goes not as the Irishman predicted.

But Conor McGregor can’t win.

Guys with 1,394 wins in a boxing ring could not beat Floyd Mayweather. What makes anyone believe a guy with zero wins in a boxing ring could beat Floyd Mayweather? McGregor could not outbox any of those opponents, including a decade-dead Diego Corrales, if they fought on Saturday night. Even the cautious handicappers who award McGregor a puncher’s chance forget the shoulder roll when factoring in that big left hand. Conor possesses a chance if he connects against a man never legitimately knocked down (my apologies to Carlos Hernandez) in 21 years as a prize fighter. What’s the chances of that? Conor McGregor’s only real chance against Floyd Mayweather remains a WWE flip of the script that sends Floyd Mayweather Sr. to the ring and leaves Jim Ross exclaiming, “Oh, God! Oh my God in heaven!” One senses Junior’s work inspires a “Will somebody stop the damn match, enough’s enough” from the ringside.

The existence of this fight proves how much we favor the exhibition over the competition. More so does the heavy action wagered on McGregor, unprecedented live gate, and record pay-per-view buys.

We buy the hype and get suckered by the circus sideshow. Bright, shiny objects easily blind us. P.T. Barnum would be the richest man in the world if he lived in our times.

Crazy is contagious. One can’t help but observe the shiny-eyed, mouth-agape expression of McGregor after the scales on Friday, and think of how his many devotees embrace the insanity. Their forecast for this fight appears more unglued than McGregor’s face dances at the weigh-in.

Mayweather-McGregor is 2017’s tulip craze. It’s your choice: You can either pay $99 to subscribe to the broadcast or read Charles Mackey’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Either way, your night will end on the same thoughts. But in the beginning of the evening, like kids on Christmas morning imagining from their beds a spaceship under the tree, thoughts of a guy who never boxed raising his hands above the still, prone body of one of the best guys to ever box will fill the heads of people not using theirs. We lose our minds when we presume our hopes.

They don’t play three-card Monte in the casinos of Las Vegas. But on Saturday night before 20,000 marks in the T-Mobile Arena they do.

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