14 Life Lessons Learned From A Top Performing, Professional Brute

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(This article was originally a guest post for Copy Chief.)

A few seasons ago, a loud mouthed NFL player — Richard Sherman — aggravated a nation and drew controversy with a post-match interview.

If you didn’t catch it before, have a look here:

At first glance, Sherman comes across as a brash, ignorant and unsporting meat-head, who uses his air time to settle a score. Completely unattractive to the uninitiated.

But when you dig a little deeper, there’s a magnetic story to Richard Sherman. It tells the tale of a highly educated, top performer, who masterfully plays the game around him to his own success.

One of the most compelling parts of Sherman’s story is his intellect. He is a self-confessed nerd, who graduated with a near perfect record from Stanford.

Sherman is a textbook example of the effect of trash talking in sports — It splits opinion.

For some, it’s an unnecessary act that brings the athlete’s character and sportsmanship into question.

For others, it’s the showmanship that makes it all worth watching.

Many would consider splitting public opinion in such a way a risky move. So, why do athletes do it?

To answer the question, we’re going to take a look at the #1 trash talker in sport today — the UFC’s Conor McGregor.

Conor — a fellow Irishman  — is the first Irish UFC fighter to be considered a success.

He is brash. He is cocky. He loves to trash talk. And he seems like an egomaniacal thug at first glance.

For those in the know, his accent reveals he’s from a notoriously troubled and crime-ridden neighbourhood in the city of Dublin – Crumlin.

Lot’s of similarities to Sherman — who grew up in Compton, California — except Conor has no higher level, university education to add a layer of sheen.

Let me introduce you to Conor…

In the following video, he is on stage at a press event with an opponent of his, Dustin Poirier.

At face value, he’s not someone you’d really want to take life lessons from, right?

But Conor is an elite martial artist and has become one of the UFC’s biggest stars in record time. They treat him very differently to every other fighter in the organization.


Here, UFC President — Dana White — gives his view on Conor’s slingshot to superstardom:

Since discovering Conor, I’ve studied him closely, to get a better look at who this guy really is. And why he’s become so successful.

Even if you don’t like UFC — or violence — there are some key marketing and life lessons to learn from Conor’s meteoric rise to success.

The UFC Goldenboy?

To begin the intrigue, since his arrival in the UFC, the treatment he has received from the sport’s premier organization has many in the UFC community questioning whether or not he is the “real deal” and worthy of the attention.

These questions have continued to stack up even as Conor earned his title shot against the reigning, undefeated, UFC featherweight champion — Jose Aldo.

Conor was originally scheduled to fight Jose on July 11th, in what the UFC had positioned as “The Biggest Fight In Featherweight History”.

Meet the Author

Ross O'Lochlainn

Hi, I'm Ross. I set out on an adventure to understand what really makes prospects convert into customers, but I quickly become fed up with the barrage of dishonest and unethical marketing tactics touted by so-called "experts" online. So I created Conversion Engineering -- a site that shows you the systems, structures and copywriting techniques that ethically (and repeatedly) generate sales.

2 comments… add one
  • I never cared about UFC … until I read this! Thanks!

    Awesome writeup! Tons of lessons.

    “Know what business you are really in.” – reminds me of wresting, where it’s 100% entertainment.

    Actually applying those lessons and making them a part of our life is where the real fight is…

    One “shortcut” is finding an “escape” in those lessons. (Like Conor had the gym).

    Oh, and it’s cool how by marketing and driving up the hype (before the fights) you get the UFC on board with you. It’s a promotional win-win.

    The interview with the psychologist was dumbed down and hideously butchered short to fit “TV standards”, but it seals the theme about visualization and focus.

    Here’s a bit more I found here: http://www.joe.ie/sport/how-to-train-your-brain-for-mma/22831

    E.g.: “There is also the idea that it’s only for athletes with problems – if you need a mental skills trainer you are mentally weak. This is totally untrue.

    Anyway, cool stuff. Expand the article more if you’re passionate about it (I found it actually surprisingly short!) – and then drive organic traffic to it, share on social, etc. You’ve organized it into a good story from beginning to end, and the “lessons learned” spin make it valuable for even knowledgeable UFC fans.

    P.S. Video Nr. 3 doesn’t work, but that’s not a show-stopper.

    • Haha – thanks very much Cezary.

      Conor McGregor was the converting force behind becoming a UFC fan myself!

      And thanks for the suggestion about expanding the article a bit more. There are plans to revisit the lessons here in future.

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