Luke Barnatt is “100 percent” sure that Conor McGregor’s massive Twitter following isn’t real.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 alumni appeared on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, where he opened up about McGregor’s accelerated popularity and the façade created by the Paradigm Sports Management’s business module.
Paradigm is the management company that I believe that Conor McGregor is under. They have this interesting concept that they believe that your following is depicted by how many people you have on Twitter, so your whole MMA following, if you've got followers on Twitter, then obviously you’re a big deal, and they find that easier to go out and get sponsorships and make you look important.
So they employ this thing called Tweetbot. You pay a certain amount of money, and you get these fake followers. So they’re built and they’re made by a computer, and they follow certain people. If you go through the followers, the Paradigm guys, not all of them but some of them, you’ll find these rival accounts that make up a lot of the percentage for people who is following. Yeah it makes them look like they’re a big deal, it makes them look like they’ve got lots of fans, and it makes them look important.
Barnatt has been promised a new car by a friend of his agent’s, if he is able to surpass McGregor in Twitter followers. Of course, that’ll be a difficult task considering the Irishman has nearly seven times as many followers.
Yes folks, Twitter is serious business these days, apparently.
There has never been a fighter in UFC history to achieve the same level of notoriety in such a short time as McGregor since former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar.
McGregor has only had two fights in the Octagon against relatively lukewarm opposition, and he is already one of the most recognizable faces in the featherweight division. When he isn’t riding around in Ferraris and taking selfies with UFC President Dana White, he’s talking trash on Twitter and strolling around the country in expensive suits living the good life.
At UFC Fight Night 26, the UFC even opted to give McGregor the same blackout entrance that is typically reserved for the co-main and main event bouts.
McGregor’s instantaneous rise to superstardom hasn’t gone over well with many UFC veterans.
When speaking with Fighter’s Only, Cole Miller called McGregor “disgusting” for attempting to talk his way to the top of the division. During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Diego Sanchez said McGregor had a “big mouth” and he needed to “walk the walk before he can talk the talk.” Cub Swanson told MMA Roasted (h/t John Joe O'Regan of Fighters Only) that McGregor needs to be careful running his mouth and “fight somebody in the top-10 first.”
For Barnatt, it isn't about jealousy or McGregor trash talking his way to the top of the ranks. Quite the contrary, he actually likes McGregor and considers him to be a good individual. There are times when he feels like the featherweight crosses the line, and a prime example of that is his ongoing beef with Sanchez.
I’m not jealous of Conor, he’s a cool guy, Barnatt said on The MMA Hour. I've met him a few times. But I just think if you want to be fake and you pretend like you’re a big deal by getting all of these followers then calling out people like Diego Sanchez is weak, and things like that start to irritate me. If you’re going to call somebody out, for one you call somebody out in your own weight division, and number two, you call somebody out who is coming off of a win. You don’t call somebody out who’s a loser. What’s the point in that? It don’t make much sense in my eyes.
Money can’t buy talent, and McGregor has the potential to do some special things in the UFC. Still, legacies are written by the long-suffering journey towards completing a goal, not just the completion of the goal itself.
For the time being, the only thing McGregor is “notorious” for is potential greatness and self-promotion.