Mindset Monday: Examining The Mental Brilliance Of Conor McGregor

Mindset Monday: Examining The Mental Brilliance Of Conor McGregor

Mindset coach Mike Moor dissects the power of confidence as it relates to Conor McGregor, breaking down what makes his mindset special.

Feb 26, 2018 by FloCombat Staff
Mindset Monday: Examining The Mental Brilliance Of Conor McGregor

By Martial Arts Mindset for FloCombat

Conor McGregor represents the pinnacle of popularity in MMA. 

Through his epic verbal warfare with Nate Diaz, his destruction of a stylistic nightmare in Chad Mendes, his dethroning of Jose Aldo, and his dismantling of Eddie Alvarez to become the first fighter to hold simultaneous titles, McGregor rapidly became a household name over the past three years. 

He was also part of one of the most lucrative fights of all time against Floyd Mayweather. You may have seen some headlines about that one. 

For all his attention, however, McGregor boasts a physical skill set comparable to most other top UFC fighters. 

So what separates him from everyone else? It's his confidence.


Many believe McGregor's confidence is the result his success. 

I firmly believe it is the source of his success. Many would call him cocky, and while he may be self-confident, McGregor is not the former. In simple terms, cockiness is a display of confidence that cannot be backed up with actions — a Prey Mindset.

Confidence, meanwhile, comes from a strong focus on yourself and a belief in your abilities — a Predator Mindset. Although they seem similar — and at times there exists only a fine line — in reality, they are worlds apart.

Cockiness is bark. Confidence is the bite. Outside of defeating Mayweather, McGregor has backed up virtually every smack-talking prediction he’s ever made.

So what are some examples of "all bark, no bite?" 

Bethe Correia versus Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey are great examples of all bark and no bite. Correia's showmanship was nothing more than that — a show — and she was brutally finished in each fight. 

Similarly, Rousey’s antics played out the same way against both Holm at UFC 193 and vs. Amanda Nunes at UFC 207. Rousey’s serious stares and her wild claims did not align with the underlying lack of confidence and competency in her skill set compared to Holm and Nunes.

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Now that we know the difference between cockiness and confidence, what are McGregor's keys to confidence? More importantly, what are ways you can use those keys to success to help build confidence on your own?

  1. McGregor Expresses A Strong Belief In His Abilities To Achieve His Goals

  • Similar to greats like Muhammad Ali, McGregor always believed early on he would become a world champion, even before his skills or his situation allowed for it. If you want consistent performances, you need consistent thoughts and beliefs.

Actionable Advice: Create a list of both your past accomplishments and your personal strengths in fighting, in your career, and in life. Try to name as many as possible.

  • Confidence has everything to do with the things you focus on. If you focus on past failures or current limitations, you will have a hard time believing in yourself. You want to have past successes fresh in your mind all the time. You want to know deep down that you are good enough.
  1. Ability To Bounce Back From Adversity

  • True champions are often defined by how they bounce back from adversity. McGregor lived out of a car in order to afford his training early in his career. After his loss to Nate Diaz in their highly publicized fight at UFC 196 in March 2016, McGregor put a damper on his loud rise to the top. Like a true champion, he not only came back ready to fight, but he also demanded their rematch at UFC 202 five months later — and he won.

Actionable Advice: Remind yourself of previous times you have found strength in your struggle by creating a list of extreme hardships/difficulties you have already overcome and how they have made you stronger. You have gotten through tough times before; this is no different. 

  1. Confident Swagger And Body Language

  • McGregor is notorious (pun intended) for psychological warfare, most notably at UFC 194 against Jose Aldo in late 2015. Never once did McGregor show an ounce of doubt in himself or buy into Aldo’s typically serious demeanor. McGregor walked into every room and every press conference like he owned it. His confidence and his swagger intimidates his opponent, it creates doubt, and then he backs up the talk with his actions inside the cage.

Actionable Advice: If you want to be confident, you need to learn how to act confidently. Describe what confidence looks like to you and name some people who can be confidence role models. Whether it be a job interview or your next fight, you need to look how you want to feel. Even if you’re not confident yet, fake it until you feel it. 

  1. Strong Visualization Of Both His Technique And His Goals

  • McGregor would imagine himself driving soft-top Bentleys in Los Angeles when he couldn’t even afford to pay his rent. He made that a reality. He imagined himself counter-punching Aldo as he over-extended, and McGregor finished that fight and many other fights according to the predictions he made through his visualizations. Visualizing and believing something will happen is not a guarantee of success; however, a lack of either is a strong indicator that it will never happen. 

Actionable Advice: Create a tangible and mental highlight reel of your best fights, executing your best techniques and visualizing what victory looks like. Pick a time and place you can do it every day. 

NOTE: It is difficult to visualize anything sort of success with a lack of confidence. 

For more information on Martial Arts Mindset and the concepts presented, visit here: www.martialartsmindset.com

Martial Arts Mindset is a training program that’s specific to combat sports and is used by multiple UFC and professional fighters, BJJ competitors, Olympians, and high-level coaches throughout the world.