A quality glimpse behind the adrenaline pumped, bloody curtain of the Irish star of the Ultimate Fighting Championship
“Let’s go school this motherf****r.” Connor McGregor emerges from his Las Vegas mansion. Coffee in hand, three piece suit freshly pressed and ready to go to war.
The then Interim Featherweight Champion of the UFC is on his way to a title decider against José Aldo. The Brazilian, who had previously been reigning Featherweight Champion for ten years, lasted just 13 seconds against McGregor.
For those unfamiliar with McGregor, his rise has been meteoric. It has been just four years since he signed to the UFC, the elite mixed martial arts competition, but this summer he fought Floyd Mayweather in a fight that saw the Irishman take home €140 million.
Notorious is the story of how a skinny, acne covered Irish lad hailing from Dublin became the face of the billion dollar corporation that is the UFC. For fans of McGregor, it is a chance to see footage from before he was the Notorious One. From a time when his sparring partner couldn’t afford head gear and his return home from training was met with letters from the Irish Debt Bureau. “Tell them to join the queue,” exclaims McGregor.
McGregor, along with long term girlfriend, Dee Devlin still live with McGregor’s parents but their belief in his abilities are there for all to see. To no one’s surprise, McGregor gets his big break as he is signed to the UFC.
The film takes us to his first UFC fight, a knockout victory against Marcus Brimage, and beyond. McGregor’s stock continues to rise and so does his UFC record.
One fight undefeated, two fights, three fights, four. The Irishman is rapidly progressing towards the top and soon he finds himself scheduled to take on Aldo, holder of the Featherweight belt.
The Aldo fight can be seen as the seminal moment of his career. After an initial fight was postponed, McGregor took little time in the actual fight to make history.
After sustaining a hit himself, McGregor landed his first punch. A hard left to Aldo’s head and the Brazilian hit the canvas. It was a turning point in McGregor’s career. He had made it to the top like he so desperately wanted but speaking after the fight, it shows why McGregor is so unique.
Behind the glitz and the glamour there is the truly interesting aspect of McGregor’s character. The trash-talking, the expensive suits, the even more expensive cars are all a show for the man beneath that. McGregor appears as one of the most determined men you could meet. A relentless, unyielding man who only wants to do one thing — win. His desire to make history has pushed him to take on new challenges.
A fight with Nate Diaz, a man seven kilos heavier than McGregor, sees the Irishman lose. For a man who thrives on winning and being the best, the images of him dejected in the changing room were a stark contrast from the rest of the film. As UFC fans will know, McGregor returned to win the rematch against Diaz before setting his sights on becoming the first man to hold two UFC belts.
If by now you have begun to understand the kind of serial winner McGregor is you will not be surprised to hear he achieved that feat. A knockout against Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez in November of 2016 earned him that second belt.
The film ending seemed a little rushed as it didn’t really explore the Alvarez or later the Mayweather fights with the same detail as it did with Aldo and Diaz which makes sense considering this is still an ongoing story. McGregor is just 29 which means he still has plenty of fights left in him should he choose so.
Any sport film can be tricky to review in terms of a narrative as it is hard to define clear characters. Every hero is just a villain in another man’s story. Notorious, like many of its predecessors, becomes more of a visual biography but one that will satisfy McGregor fans. The release of behind-the-scenes footage is a welcome paring to the fight footage that has been seen time and time again. Truly the most enjoyable parts of the film came before McGregor made it big where we got a look at what makes the man tick.
“What’s everyone else doing Saturday? Probably out drinking, getting up to no good. I’m here waiting on a 90+ kilo rugby head to come and have a scrap with.” An exhausted McGregor sits on the canvas after another day of training, “This is my life, welcome.”