Conor McGregor Used the WWE Playbook En Route to Crossover Success

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterAugust 30, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 27:  Conor McGregor attends his after fight party and his Wynn Nightlife residency debut at the Encore Beach Club at Night at Wynn Las Vegas on August 27, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Nightlife)
David Becker/Getty Images

Conor McGregor's boxing skills allowed him to hang with Floyd Mayweather Jr. longer than anyone expected in the MMA vs. boxing megafight. It was his WWE-style bravado, verbal assaults and larger-than-life presence that helped make that bout the must-watch phenomenon that it was. 

McGregor is UFC's biggest name. He's a fighter even the most casual fan has an opinion about.      

And his star power is so great that his pro boxing debut on Saturday was the talk of the sports world. 

McGregor on the attack against Mayweather.
McGregor on the attack against Mayweather.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Everyone from P Diddy to LeBron James was in attendance that night. The pay-per-view numbers are expected to be historic. The Telegraph estimated the fight's total revenue at $700 million. All this for a guy with a 0-0 boxing record.

It's not just McGregor's knockout power and defense that got him to this point and allowed him to churn this kind of buzz. His personality and trash-talk acumen moved him into the mainstream. It's that part of his game that is heavily influenced by the world of pro wrestling.

McGregor is loud, brash and defiantly over the top. He cuts down opponents with one-liners and lands verbal body blows as he lays on the disrespect thick. 

His pre-fight promises sound they belong on WWE Raw.

McGregor told the media in 2013 ahead of his fight with Max Holloway: "There are two things I really like to do and that's whoop ass and look good. I'm doing one of them right now, and on Saturday night, I'm doing the other."

He gifted us equally entertaining quotes before tangling with Mayweather: 

The trash talk McGregor emits is art. It's snappy and unforgiving. It's the rhetoric of a pro wrestler, the kind of ammo The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Roddy Piper fired at their foes.

Former WWE champion Chris Jericho referred to McGregor in an interview with Sports Illustrated as a "yappy" guy who "knows the concept of cutting a wrestling promo."

The Notorious One has not been shying about borrowing from Ric Flair in terms of his look, either.

McGregor's flashy style often parallels that of the WWE Hall of Famer. He sports loud suits, sunglasses indoors, and the finest shoes and watches that money can buy.

The getup he sported at the press conference for his UFC 205 clash with Eddie Alvarez last November looked plucked straight from The Nature Boy's collection:

At a 2013 press conference, McGregor spat lines that would have been right at home in a Flair promo: "These custom-made suits aren't cheap. This solid gold pocket watch...three people died making this watch."

Even McGregor's gait has a WWE tinge to it.

The Irishman has long emulated The Chairman in the way he walks. Much like WWE head Vince McMahon, McGregor struts with his arms swinging dramatically at his sides, his head bobbing like a peacock.

Like Muhammad Ali before him, McGregor has realized that people will pay big bucks to see someone they find irksome get knocked around.

Ali explained that wrestler Gorgeous George influenced the way he presented himself. It's clear that McGregor learned similar lessons from the squared circle.

The WWE-esque elements of McGregor's total package have helped him stand out among all the other hard-hitting warriors of the Octagon. He has leaned on his personality to make a name beyond what his fists and feet could. 

McGregor infamously blasted WWE stars last fall but owes a debt to that world. Pro wrestling provided the blueprint to create headlines and make money from what comes out of his mouth.