The Psychology of Admiring Great People


This post is about fighting. I’m a humanist. I get how strange that is, so let’s move on.

Jose Aldo is fighting Conor McGregor on December 12th, and I am more excited about this fight than I have been for any fight in years.

Here’s why.

Jose Aldo is a wrecking ball. He’s extremely dominant, and he’s been a champion for a long time. I also think he matches up well against McGregor, so that will make things exciting.

But I’m mostly excited about the fight because of McGregor, and I am not alone in this.

McGregor is luminescent. He’s so enjoyable to observe. But he’s also a bit of an ass. Rude to other fighters. He thinks (too) highly of himself. He considers himself the future best in the world.

He says his “Fight IQ” is higher than anyone else’s. And I guess I’d have to agree thus far. He’s been outright murdering people. And it’s really fun to watch. His dominance really does look like a superhero fighting a mortal.

But there’s a strange thing about this whole thing. If he lost this fight, I’d not like him nearly as much. I’d probably turn against him.

As someone who dislikes conflict in my own opinions and mind, this bothers me. So I inspected it.

It comes down to greatness. The reasons we like him, just as we loved Ronda Rousey, is because they were winning. It’s because they were great. Even nice people, who prefer to see people be respectful, were giving Ronda all sorts of leeway in being disrespectful because she was so dominant.

I did want her to only be disrespectful in a respectful way, however. So I liked her being aggressive when bad things were said about her, but not when she was just being mean because she could.

So when she fought Holm and lost, I was happy. She was being really mean to that girl. And she got dominated and knocked out.

McGregor is in a very similar position.

He’s talking a metric ton of shit. Mean stuff. Rude stuff. It’s part of the game of course, but Aldo is not being reciprocally rude. He’s being aggressive in all the expected ways. He’s saying he’s the champ, and that he’s going to show him in the ring, and all that.

But he’s the prey in this exchange.

It was before my time, but this reminds me exactly of Ali and Foreman. Foreman was the monster. He was the better fighter. But everyone wanted Ali to win.

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There is a good chance that McGregor will have more fans in Rio De Janeiro than Aldo just because of how much of a phenomenon he is. Aldo is becoming Foreman. Defeated by rhetoric and unable to match wits with Conor.

But this only works if Ali wins. If Ali got knocked out he would have been both a loser AND an asshole for all the things he said.

So that’s what it comes down to.

The world wants (dare I say needs) more Alis. The world wants Conor to win because it likes having superheroes. Ali was vicious in press conferences, just as Conor is. And it’s working for him.

He just has to back it up in the ring.

I hope he does. I’d like to see it. And then I’d like to see him give Aldo some mad respect, and apologize for the stuff he said.

Barring that, I’d like to see Aldo destroy him and then have him apologize.

Either way, I’ll be there.

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