One of the biggest names in Irish sport, Conor McGregor stars in his own documentary this month, telling the story of his rise from welfare to UFC Championships. The below interview takes us behind the scenes with director Gavin Ftizgerald & producer Jamie D’Alton.


NOTORIOUS is now showing in Irish cinemas

Gavin, Jamie congratulations on the film. Were you fans of Conor going into this because you Gavin have been following him for four years for this film?

Gavin

No, people on the MMA circuit knew about him but I didn’t. I went in to SPG one day to learn what mixedd martials was myself and we were filming all these characters down there, Paddy Holohan, Owen Roddy, Cathal Pendred and of course Conor McGregor you know and Conor was a skin head back then and he was shadow boxing his way into shots and he had this way about him and we sort of took to him. He was immediately different, captivating and charming at the same time.

Jamie

So he had those movie star qualities, from the start he did honestly. Most people remember Conor as a person from his appearance on The Late Late Show and everyone is like who is this guy? And I suppose anyone who met Conor for the first time they thought this guys has something about him so beyond having the star quality he’s an unbelievable athlete as well but having that  perfect alchemy of the two is something.

You travelled with him for four years, what was that like as an experience as film makers?

Gavin

It was such a privilege as your making a documentary that you didn’t have to set up anything ever. Drama would come literally knocking at your door at times as you can see in the film Lorenzo and Dana White called over one day to break the news to Conor about the ldo fight is off and you’re going to be fighting someone else and we’re watching that uncover in the moment so we had to there all those times. We did a lot of hanging around as well but we were there for the right moments.

Jamie

You can petty much chart Conor’s rise by the hotels Gavin had to stay in. He went from the Hooter’s Hotel to the Travelodge, and by the end he was being flown by private jet around the world.

Gavin

You get used to it.

What for you were some of the most interesting things to learn about because I found it fascinaing every time Conor went out for a match he had a cup of tea in his hand to the car. Did he explain that one to you because I’ve been told he’s not supersticious but this sounds like a tradition.

Jamie

His lucky jocks

Gavin

That’s a good observation actually, I don’t think you’re even allowed bring in cups of coffee into the arena so he’d be there walking with his coffee and they’d be like you can’t bring that in there so he’s leaving a cup everywhere he fights.

Jamie

He is very relaxed for a man who’s taking on so much. There’s just that  scene where he’s listening to ‘No diggity’ and he’s saying nobody does it better than me and I was finding myself nodding along everytime saying yeah nobody does it better because he’s just so relaxed.

Gavin

He just focuses on the opponent and is probably thinking if I’m nervous then that other guy is and that just gives him more confidence and he just thrives off that. Nobody is that relaxed backstage.

What was it like being on the ground floor seeing him lose so much weight for the Chad Mendez fight?

Gavin

That’s probably the one time I don’t want to be around Conor, when he’s losing weight because he’s starved. It is a horrible part of the sport and I think it should change maybe as it’s quite dangerous I don’t think he’ll be fighting a 145 too many times because it’s such a crazy cut so yeah being around that is awkward.

Jamie

But it’s funny you talk about it in a film sense because you see all these actors losing massive amounts of weight and you see Conor and there’s that scene where he’s walking up those stairs and he looks emaciated and he could barely support his own weight.

Gavin

Twenty four hours later he’s looking ready. It’s amazing what the body is capable of.

There were one or two funny moments, I say that but there were tons. The Arnold Schwarzenegger moment that for me was when any kind of persona Conor may have is gone as he just geeks out over the fact that there’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Jamie

That was just him going back to being a total Dub, a total kid and his eyes are bulging. Gav was there but when I saw it you know Arnie delivering the line “I’ll be back”  I just thought we have a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger saying “I’ll be back” you know, I’ve arrived this is awesome.

Gavin

I was literally watching Terminator 3 the night before so I got to see him in a cinema in Vegas and the Terminator was at the door so I was just glad he didn’t have his gun with him. Arnie is super cool he is chilled out and he was chatting to everyone all about the benefits of having behind the scenes drama for his documenary Pumping Iron so he was totally into being filmed and really comfortable with it all.

Jamie

I would love in twenty years time people would just reference the McGregor film as a sports film, a fight film that stands the test of time because that’s what Pumping Iron does and I only saw Pumping Iron two years ago and that was made late/early eighties but I suppose every filmmaker wants their films on a shelf and that it still stands up.