Conor McGregor has been widely mocked on social media for starring in an eyeball-stretching TV spot for a sports betting company that falls squarely into the “so bad it’s awful” category.
The ad, for operator Parimatch, depicts the troubled mixed martial arts star and wannabee boxer flying through the air in a leather jacket with his tongue hanging out before squaring up to a cat.
Despite his recent controversies, McGregor is a natural fit for a sports betting brand. As a former UFC champion, he was the biggest pay-per-view draw in MMA history, and his much-hyped boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas was one the betting events of 2017.
What some are struggling with is the relevance of the cat or, for that matter, the aircraft hangar filled with yellow flamingos.
Later, we see “The Notorious” dressed up as The Joker and knocking out Mike Tyson while rendered in 16-bit. Oh, and a man in a gorilla suit turns up.
It’s like they somehow filmed McGregor adversary Khabib Nurmagomedov’s most disturbing dream ever.
“Be fighter (sic). Be engaged. Kick down. Be iconic. Reliable. Unexpected. Be Daring. Extremely daring. Just be. Fired up. To win,” intones a gravely voiceover, not really helping matters.
There’s a lot going on in this ad, so much so that you’d be forgiven for feeling the message gets lost.
“Was this made for SNL?? Is this part of a trailer for a new Zoolander movie?? I don’t care, I just had a great laugh with this bizarre piece of crap,” wrote one puzzled Twitter user.
Fortunately, Parimatch CEO Sergey Portnov was able to clarify via a press release, issued Monday. Or maybe not.
It is impossible to put Conor’s personality into words, and also impossible to remain indifferent to him,” explained Portnov. “In his advertising campaign for Parimatch, he was true to himself — unpredictable and brutal, but always reliable and charged to win.”
Return to UFC?
McGregor has signed a two-year personal endorsement deal with Parimatch across the CIS region, joining other brand ambassadors Mike Tyson and UFC stars Alexey Oleynik, Petr Yan, and the Shevchenko sisters.
Parimatch is also the UFC’s official betting partner across Africa, the Middle East, the CIS region, and the rest of Europe, excluding the UK and Ireland.
McGregor has not fought a UFC bout since his defeat by submission to Nurmagomedov in 2018. Having retired in March, he recently suggested he would return to the octagon in January 18 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. An opponent has yet to be announced. Maybe it’s a cat.