The Dublin UFC champ is not funny, is not clever and is now so predictable he's no longer shocking. Why can he not use his position to become a role model with real dignity and influence?

To some he's a hero.  But to most people here at this stage Conor McGregor has become a national embarrassment.  

Or as he might put it himself, “a f---en disgrace.” 

I have adult sons who follow boxing and occasionally MMA and UFC, so the McGregor-Khabib Nurmagomedov pre-fight press conference last week was on TV in our house.  We watched, mostly in appalled, stunned silence, as McGregor launched into a tirade of profanity, peppered throughout with the f-word, the s-word and even the c-word.  

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It wasn't funny, it wasn't clever, it wasn't even all that shocking since it was more of what we have come to expect from him.

What it was to anyone with half a brain was demeaning, depressing and tedious to the point of boredom.  The language this time was even worse than before.  

"They remind me of Donald Trump supporters..." 🇮🇪🇺🇸@WhosAdrianBarry's pretty sick of a certain cohort of McGregor fans after a week of getting stick after his #UFC229 chat with @niallmcgrath4 👊

Does he have a point? #OTBAM

— Off The Ball (@offtheball) September 28, 2018

It was bad enough watching this on TV in Ireland.  At least we're used to this kind of gutter repartee here, since it's the sort of dumb, vicious abuse you hear from young thugs on the streets in Dublin if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, usually late at night.  It's the kind of foul-mouthed ranting that frequently ends up in someone being stabbed or some innocent bystander being kicked unconscious.  

What was even more embarrassing about last week's press conference for us watching in Ireland was that it was taking place in the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York, and not just Americans but people around the world were watching and listening.  What McGregor did again was play into the cliché of the drunken Oirish fightin' man, swearing, spitting bile and waving around a bottle of his new whiskey.   But it was the language that was the worst, bad enough to make the vast majority of Irish people cringe. 

You can find the full press conference easily online.  But here's a taster -- an early bit in which McGregor is complaining about fans not being allowed into the press conference audience:

"If I was an owner and was part of the promotion I would have had the f***ing fans in this arena. Where's the f***ing fans at? That's who pays the f--king bills,” McGregor roared.

“That's who deserves this show. Bring me all over the f***ing world and we're just sitting here in a f***ng thing. I'm on my probation and up to me eyeballs in ongoing and incoming civil cases. And we come here to do this bulls***. Here we are, you wanted a war, you know what I'm sayin’? Let's get a war going. F*** all this stupid other s***."

That gives you a flavor and, minus the c-word, it is far from the worst of the stuff he was spouting.  

Why is this tolerated?  If a leading figure in any other sport in America -- soccer, basketball, American football, even boxing -- came out with the stream of ugly profanity, personal insults and threats spewed by McGregor they would be banned and ostracized.  Every sponsor would cancel their involvement and every advertiser would pull their commercials.  

"I don't give a f**k" - @TheNotoriousMMA isn't holding anything back heading to #UFC229...

— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) September 27, 2018

The suspicion must be that McGregor's foul mouth is tolerated precisely because he's Irish and too many people in the U.S. buy into the cliché.

Sure and begorrah, it's a laugh. It's just him being comically Oirish.  Fightin' and drunken abuse is what they do over there in the Emerald Isle, right?   

McGregor, as you know, is called The Notorious.  It's a title and image he cultivates and strives to live up to.

Or perhaps that should be live down to, because at this stage he has hit bottom and there's nowhere else to go except to be even more disgusting and abusive.  

At this stage the law of diminishing returns applies as he exhausts any remaining shock value, and his ranting and raving crosses the line into absurdity. If it wasn't so nauseating and pathetic it would be funny. 

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But hang on, his fans would say, you're missing the point.  That's just him being clever.  It's all about maximizing the international TV pay per view audience for the sold-out fight in Vegas on October 6.  

He knows what he's doing.  In fact he's far smarter than his critics and he couldn't care less whether anyone is offended by his antics and his language.  

And of course there's no one in the UFC/ MMA/boxing world who is better at this than McGregor, as we know from the global publicity his trash talking generated in advance of his boxing match with Mayweather, the ridiculous fight that earned him close to $100 million.   

But does that make it okay?  Is there no depth he will not sink to for a buck?  

He doesn't need more money.  He should be aware that as a global sports star who happens to be Irish he has a duty not to embarrass the country he comes from and the vast majority of people here who find his behavior and language offensive.  

Most of us here are not in a permanent rage.  And most of us here can put sentences together without repeated use of the f-word, something that seems to be beyond him.   

There is a more serious aspect to all this. Like it or not, McGregor's fight career and celebrity status have made him a role model for many young males, not just in Ireland but elsewhere as well.  

They lap up his trash talk and ape his swagger and his barely contained, insane level of aggression.  They want to be like him, fight like him and, yes, talk like him.

They admire the explosive threat level he exudes, even when he's at a press conference or on a TV talk show instead of in the octagon or the ring.  

The problem with McGregor's behavior is that it gives the impression that this kind of ugly behavior is admirable, a sort of extension of having the craic.  It's far from being the only inspiration for the violence we see around us too often in Dublin (and elsewhere) these days, but it has to be a contributing factor.  It's legitimizing.  

When feral young men attack someone in a late night row and kick them into submission because of some perceived insult, they're only doing what their hero does.  

McGregor is from Crumlin, once one of the toughest areas in Dublin although it has since been superseded in thuggery by other areas, particularly on the north side of the city.  The mindless intimidation, anti-social behavior and outright violence perpetrated by gangs of youths in these areas make old folk afraid to leave their homes at night, and parents afraid to let their kids outside during the day.  Some streets and areas have become a miserable place to live because of the mindless violence.   

You see this in the aggressive behavior of youngsters, creating trouble at shops, bus stops, on the Dart and Luas (local trams to the city center).  They vandalize, litter, steal, destroy property and have running battles as a form of amusement.  Anyone who tries to intervene attracts a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse and may become a physical target, sometimes with very ugly consequences.   

It's all part of a mindset that seeks out imaginary insult and jumps into confrontation.  It comes from the same place as that head back, chest out, aggressive swagger that McGregor uses.   The foul language is from the same script.   

It may seem unfair to lay all this at McGregor's door when the whole UFC circus is part of the problem.  UFC President Dana White, having claimed to be appalled by McGregor's bus attack six months ago, is now using footage from the incident to promote the upcoming fight.  

And he did nothing to curb McGregor's behavior at last week's press conference because he knows it will generate even more money.  Plus he has signed a contract with McGregor for six more UFC fights.  

The UFC is as foul as McGregor's language.  But McGregor is the star and he could raise the game if he wanted.

The real pity is that he doesn't need to do this stuff, to sink to this level.  He is an extraordinary sportsman, even if you don't like the sport he stars in.

Because he is Irish he has even more influence here than elsewhere.  If he had the vision he could rise far above all this tawdry stuff and become a role model with real dignity and influence.  

Instead of using foul language all the time he could use humor and his intelligence to be a force for good.  Instead of spewing gutter language he could be a brilliant, entertaining and inspiring talker like Muhammad Ali was. 

He could be a real hero. At present, he is just a national embarrassment. 

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