For those who are avid fans of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) universe, you will certainly be made aware of the reigning Lightweight Champion and former Featherweight Champion, Connor McGregor. The Irish professional mixed martial artist has graced the champions board for quite some time now to the point where it’s inevitable to not know about his backstory and how his humble origins lead him to become the UFC master that he is today. Director Gavin Fitzgerald brings McGregor’s life to the big screen as he documented his life before his prime. Will the accumulated footage be enough to tell a profound story to an audience not aware of the UFC universe, or will it fall short?
The movie informs the viewer that Fitzgerald’s footage has been filmed over the course of four years, highlighting McGregor’s struggle to survive with the help of benefits and living at his parents’ house in Dublin, Ireland; to claiming multiple belts from UFC championships and cashing in money that the benefit wouldn’t provide him in one or even two lifetimes. Fitzgerald does a splendid job in combining all the old footage into a quick and fast-paced account of McGregor’s humble beginnings that began at his local gym and living on the dole as well as facing countless final demand letters, to following his dreams in training for fights that are worth millions. The film also follows his risky and dangerous move from the featherweight to lightweight division.
What’s great about this documentary is that over the span of four years, viewers and fans especially are still able to see McGregor’s ability to maintain his sense of self despite the fame such as: his manic laugh, his banter and sense of humour and his humility and tranquil persona even when beaten and battered after a fight. Another heartfelt factor is McGregor’s long-term partner, Dee Devlin; in the sense that her constant presence during his fighting career may be a vital factor to his success in that her intense and passionate support for her partner shows the personal and intimate side to McGregor’s fame- it’s a great divider from the fame and money and really puts things into perspective as viewers are reminded of the crucial importance of family and unconditional support when aiming to achieve a goal.
Nevertheless, Fitzgerald does show how McGregor is like when in the ring, showcasing his savage-like, macho and arrogant persona to the crowd while beating the crap out of his opponent. However, once out of the ring, viewers are able to see another side to McGregor that may shock viewers who are used to seeing his façade and stage persona. It’s no question as to why he is a laidback, gentle and humble individual in real life after encountering an abundance of struggles throughout his adult-life that eventually turned into success through hard-work and work ethic. The documentary emphasizes and reinforces McGregor’s passion and dedication to his art and how his commitment can be an inspiration to anyone working towards their own personal goals.
To McGregor, his life is merely a straightforward one where he once stated, “I get paid loads of cash for beating the crap out of people. And I’m very good at it.” Even when facing a loss, the film outlines his humility to face his flaws and overcome them in the next fights (he tellingly apologises to his fans and those supporting him for losing a fight and makes no excuses). Additionally, although assumed to be a biased outlook on his success, this film proves to be another championship belt for McGregor as it is not only a win for a fight, but it is his own win at life.