Conor McGregor is the biggest superstar the young sport of MMA has ever known. A brash trash talker with a cannon for a left hand and a way of proving his critics wrong. Jack Slack is the best MMA writer around and my favourite sports writer. Notorious looks at the rise of Ireland’s favourite son through the lens of each of his fights.
As I write, McGregor is on the brink of fighting Mayweather and this book will help you convince your friends he’s in with a shot, (although Slack doesn’t give him a chance). The real story is how an amateur boxer talked himself into the ring with one of the greatest boxers of all time, a 0-0 record vs a man at 49-0.
Unlike boxing however, most MMA fighters lose, and for the good ones that makes them better. McGregor’s gym has the motto ‘win or learn’. There is a real appreciation for how McGregor strives to improve. His gyms motto is something he lives by. After the famous loss to Nate Diaz, Conor signed up right away for the rematch and insisted it be at the same weight. He then focussed his training on making up from where he went wrong.
Notorious is no quick cash-in hagiography. While it recounts McGregor early days, that is brief. This book looks at his development through his fights. Slack covers each of his fights and how he progressed as a fighter each time. These fight breakdowns are the heart of the book, each encounter has a blow-by-blow examination.
Through breakdowns and explanations throughout Slack explores the different areas of the fight. He looks into the benefits of being a Southpaw, delves into the intricacies of ground fighting and how distance is of utmost importance when used well. As a primer on MMA it is excellent.
As a grappler I find reading Jack Slack to be educational, he makes me think on my training and how to improve it. I watch fights differently now, trying to see the feet more and learn who is using the cage better.The insight into Conor’s early career is fascinating. Only five years ago he was on the dole and struggling. Now he is the biggest earner in MMA. Slack explains how Conor’s brash charm and vivid personality lead him to superstardom. But it was work and planning too. McGregor made opportunities through his dominance in the ring and then capitalized the hell out of them.
McGregor vs Mayweather
Will he beat Mayweather? Well, he’s never had a professional boxing match and is fighting a man who is undefeated after 49 fights. McGregor has crazy power in his left hand, enough to starch any man if he finds the chin. But…he is fighting the greatest defensive boxer the world has ever seen. After hundreds of rounds in the ring, Mayweather has hardly been hit.
Notorious is phenomenal, a fascinating and informative insight into the fights of Conor McGregor. But where it shines is in how Jack Slack weaves the history of Combat Sports and the science of martial arts into the narrative. I hope that Slack writes further books on martial arts because I will read the hell out of them.
I recommend his podcast, Fights Gone By and his writing at Fightland is a high point of combat sports journalism. If the book interests you grab Notorious: The Life and Fights of Conor McGregor from Amazon.
Jack’s YouTube channel is also great. He’s just thrown up videos breaking down Mayweather and McGregor and the Unknowns in their match up. These are part of his new Fight Primer website which has his breakdown of the fight.