Chronicling the meteoric rise of the Irish mixed martial artist whose journey from claiming benefits to becoming the biggest pay-per-view draw in MMA history seems right out of an underdog movie script, Conor McGregor: Notorious celebrates the rags-to-riches story of the most charismatic MMA fighter to ever step into the octagon, and is an inspiring, motivating & fascinating gift for the legions of fans that this gifted athlete has amassed all over the globe in his short but impressive career.
Filmed over the course of 4 years, Conor McGregor: Notorious documents Conor’s professional & personal journey, starting from early days when he lived in his mom’s spare room with his girlfriend to claiming multiple championship belts & million-dollar pay checks, and finally culminates with his headline bout with Nate Diaz at UFC 202. Jam-packed with exclusive interviews, backstage access & fight footage, it delves deeper into the aura of McGregor who’s already cemented a legacy that’s truly one of a kind.
Directed by Gavin Fitzgerald, the documentary is crafted like a gripping underdog sport movie, and packs a huge shot of adrenaline that kicks in several times over the course of its runtime. The ones looking for an objective approach are not going to find it here, for its target audience is McGregor’s fans. Most of his detractors confuse his confidence for arrogance, his psychological warfare during fight promotions for brashness, and his ability to make his wins look easy for weak opponents but Conor’s in-ring ability to walk the talk repeatedly simply renders their opinions invalid.
The narrative structure is interesting, for it follows Conor’s rise from an underground promotion to the biggest MMA stage of them all as he goes past everyone in his way to the fight that sealed him as the real deal. Those 13 seconds against José Aldo in which he put “the undefeated featherweight champion for a decade” to sleep with just one knockout punch is something that will be talked about for years to come. What follows next is the eventual fall with his first defeat in UFC at the hands of Nate Diaz but the revenge makes it all too sweet, thus giving the whole journey a rise-fall-resurrection arc.
The behind-the-scene moments also focuses on people who have stayed by him through the thick & thin from the very beginning, especially his girlfriend Dee Devlin. And their insights add a personal touch to Conor’s journey, showing that he’s just like everyone else at the end of the day, only difference being that most people want to be rich & successful without putting in the hard work or sacrifice that it takes to get to the top while he actually does that on a daily basis. His extravagant lifestyle may give the illusion that he’s had it easy but Conor’s earned every single dollar to get where he is and deserves every bit of the recognition he enjoys today.
On an overall scale, Conor McGregor: Notorious is a highly immersive & brilliantly narrated documentary that may not appeal to those who aren’t aware of Conor McGregor, and certainly won’t please his haters who would’ve preferred a more objective approach rather than the one-sided route that this film follows. As for me, McGregor is one of my role models and what he’s garnered since breaking into the UFC is nothing short of breathtaking. My only gripe is that it wasn’t longer, for I wouldn’t have minded another 90 minutes at all. An early Christmas present for all fans of the Mystic Mac, this documentary isn’t pathbreaking in any way or shape or form but it’s a captivating insight into the life & career of the Irishman whose larger-than-life persona is unlike anything the world of combat sports has ever seen.