Check out our Notorious review on the new documentary about Conor McGregor.
Conor McGregor’s new documentary Notorious hit the big screen for one day in North America on Wednesday, November 8. Personally, I’m a Conor McGregor fan, but my youngest son is a die-hard Mystic Mac fan. When I found out this special one-day viewing was going to be shown locally, I knew that I had to take him.
He is the perfect audience for director Gavin Fitzgerald’s film. He’s someone who has watched just about everything there is on McGregor that’s on YouTube. He can walk you through the closing moments of some of Conor’s biggest fights; even ones outside of the UFC. If you wanted to see the same McGregor that you see at press conferences and UFC interviews, you’ll love this film. If you wanted to learn what’s underneath the Irish superstar, you’re left feeling incomplete.
The documentary begins in 2012 which is right before he joins the UFC. There’s great footage of a younger McGregor talking about how little he has, but that the UFC is the key. His long-time girlfriend Dee Devlin is shown from the beginning, but she’s just there for support and you learn very little about her.
Similarly, you see some of his family members, but they’re also there for support and nothing more. None are interviewed to give you any insight into McGregor. The best supporting person in the film is Conor’s friend and teammate Artem Lobov. Lobov is the guy who gives the best soundbites while also being McGregor’s right hand man. If McGregor needs someone to throw on headgear so he can work on strikes before one of the biggest fights of his career, there’s Lobov.
McGregor’s rise to the UFC takes about 10 minutes of time and then 10 minutes later, he’s ready to face Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight championship. Aldo is injured just over two weeks out and is replaced by Chad Mendes. In addition to the opponent switch, McGregor also has a secret (not that secret) knee injury that worries him and a very hard weight cut that makes him weak. If you weren’t familiar with weight cutting, you’d have no idea why he was so ill.
More than half the film is spent on the lead-up and aftermath of the fights with Mendes and then with Aldo once he’s back from injury. McGregor’s lifestyle is now about excess and fame, including a visit from Arnold Schwarzenegger that comes out of the blue.
The two fights with Nate Diaz are covered and Nate is probably the second most fascinating person in the film after McGregor. And all that was shown of Nate were press conference clips and fight footage. Nate being Nate explodes on the screen.
Very little is shown of McGregor’s lightweight title win against Eddie Alvarez at the UFC’s debut in Madison Square Garden. And then, it’s over.
In the end credits, you see the build-up to his fight with Floyd Mayweather, but very little is explained. It just looks like he’s on par with Mayweather and how hard he worked to get the fight isn’t shown.
McGregor’s business savvy in addition to his ability to back it up in the cage is what makes him one of the most special athletes that we’ve ever seen in MMA. But you don’t see the marketing genius side of him too much.
His up and down relationship with the UFC in general isn’t shown either. It’s presented as if he has a near-perfect relationship with Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita, when UFC fans can remember when Conor fake retired before UFC 200 because of negotiations. There’s a hint of his relationship with White starting to fray at the press conference for the second Nate Diaz fight. Conor is late and Dana starts it without him. It ends with Nate and him throwing water bottles at each other, which leads Dana to cut the presser short.
If the goal was to show McGregor as a soothsayer and huge superstar, that goal was accomplished. His fight with Mendes looks like a war and his second fight with Diaz looks like a Rocky vs Apollo type battle on the big screen.
But there could’ve been much more. Even focusing on small parts of his career, like finally falling down in his loss to Nate Diaz in their first fight would’ve been very intriguing. Or finding out what motivated him to be the person he became going all the way back to his childhood would’ve been another interesting angle.
Alas, the great fight footage made the film very entertaining, even if you don’t learn too much about what makes him who he is. It was a fun 90-minute look at the best of Conor McGregor.
By the way, the kid loved it.