Conor McGregor's impressive winning streak and tirade of hubris was brought to a halt on Saturday night when we has skillfully defeated by Nate Diaz in two rounds of high-intensity, mixed martial arts fighting in Las Vegas at UFC 196. The Irishman was choked into submission by Diaz, a California native who talks plenty of trash himself, even in the midst of exchanging blows with his opponent. But after Diaz won the fight Saturday night, he hugged McGregor in a gesture of humility and condolence.
I watched the fight at a sports bar near my office. The restaurant was lined with HD TVs on every wall, and since every table, booth, and free stool was occupied, I propped myself up in a corner near the kitchen, parallel to the thoroughfare of servers breezing by. When McGregor appeared on screen, I felt a rush of adrenaline surge through my body, and when he entered the ring, I felt something a little different...a wave of empathetic fear swept over me. I thought: He's outmatched; he's not going to win.
I'm not claiming to have powers of premonition or prophecy, but it was a distinct, strong sensation that stirred in my stomach and heart. Sure enough, McGregor came out blazing and exhausted himself quickly with spinning wheel kicks that didn't land, while his punches were easily absorbed and blocked by Diaz. By the second round, McGregor was panting, and Diaz was able to close in deftly with striking combinations, ultimately finishing McGregor, the featherweight champion, with a rear-naked choke on the mat.
The featherweight division tops off at 145 pounds, so McGregor had made a bold move to challenge Diaz in the welterweight class, which is capped at 170 pounds. Most commentators claim that it was Diaz's superior weight and height that led to his victory. In simplest terms, perhaps McGregor bit off more than he could chew. In the post-fight press conference, McGregor quietly conceded that he would return to the featherweight class to defend his title before making any efforts to have a rematch with Diaz or to contend with heavier men of the welterweight division.
"Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." That quote is from Proverbs, and my grandmother Barbara has often referenced that verse, among other jewels in her repertoire of wisdom and insight, to help keep me in check and whittle me down to size when needed.
Though it is understandably dubious whether watching men pummel each other into states of submission or unconsciousness is beneficial to my path of AYP, enlightenment, and especially nonviolence, I will put forth a couple observations on the matter.
Conor McGregor is part of my ishta (my chosen ideal) because he devotes himself to the art of battle with a remarkable degree of diligence and excellence. He strives for perfection, even knowing that he will never achieve it. It's not so much his audacious antics that inspire me, though he's certainly entertaining. Rather, it's the intensity of vision, desire, and action that he puts into his craft that really gives me hope. The seed of his mastery is no different than the seed of any spiritual master. His methodology and expression may be harsher, but inside, the flame which animates and ignites his limbs is universal to the human condition.
Yogani wrote: "We can choose to become active in surrendering our stories and dramas (and our knee-jerk reactions) to what is happening right now, even as the stories and dramas continue to play in our head. That's fine. Let them play. We just release in stillness and live our life. In doing so, we can become fierce warriors of Being."
So, there is a place for the warrior archetype on this spiritual path—not necessarily in a UFC octagon, but most definitely on the meditation mat, where the fire still burns ever so brightly.
The higher power in us.