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McGregor: There was a time the Irish were laughed at in fighting

Conor McGregor talks about what his fighting legacy means to him, and the Irish superstar gets a bit emotional.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Conor McGregor has spent a lot of time on social media throwing barbs and attempting to stay visible and relevant as his hiatus from the cage continues. That takes a certain amount of bad behavior to keep the press interested, and at times it feels like McGregor has almost become a parody of himself. But in a new Instagram video for his Proper Twelve whiskey where he answers questions for the fans, he got more serious when asked how he felt about his influence on mixed martial arts.

“I feel proud,” McGregor said. “I feel imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. All I can feel is pride in that. I’ve put in a lot of hard work in this business, in the fight business — in all my businesses, but in particular the fight business. It’s a crazy, ruthless business. To be leaving a legacy, to have a solid legacy built in the sport, and to see it rub off on the young athletes coming up trying to make their name. It fills me with great pride, and I wish everyone well on their come-up.”

”I mean, one of the proudest moments for me recently was seeing that new UFC belt where they’ve got the Irish flag on the belt,” he continued. “That alone, words, I can’t even put into words how that makes me feel and how proud that makes me feel. There was a time when there wasn’t even an Irishman in the UFC, it was almost laughed upon to suggest an Irishman could even get to the UFC, let alone register win, never mind a belt, never mind even contending. Now, through hard work, through focus, through a bulletproof mind set, a never say die attitude, the Irish flag is on the UFC belt.”

If you haven’t seen the new UFC Legacy Championship belt, it’s a bit Power Rangers but we’re sure we’ll get used to it ... change can be hard to deal with. To build on what McGregor said, the flags featured around the octagonal frame don’t include every country that has won ... only the first eight countries to put forward champions are featured. It’s a bit crazy to think Ireland slid into that 8th and last spot ... who knew more countries hadn’t come before?

It’s undeniable that McGregor represents the rise of Irish MMA, and has represented it well. For a long time it just didn’t seem like Ireland or the UK would ever really manage to do well in mixed martial arts. How could they, with America pushing out so many powerhouse wrestlers and Brazil doing the same with jiu-jitsu? But the UK and Ireland have both done a tremendous job over the past several years equalizing the skillsets, partially because they’re training elsewhere and partially because world class wrestlers and BJJ guys are over there now too, building everyone up.

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