_88604377_conormcgregorWhen Conor McGregor tapped out last night I was devastated.

To give myself credit I have certainly become a better sports fan since the days crying like a baby over the Patriots losing in the Super Bowl, twice. But seeing Conor fall like he did Saturday was still not easy to watch.

I thought it was just because I like his personality. And I do. I love watching him promote fights. I love watching him call his opponents out on their weaknesses and then back it all up in the octagon.

I also love his fight style. He moves like no other fighter I have ever watched in my years of watching MMA. He’s a special talent and I’m lucky to be able to watch him in his prime years of fighting. I look forward to watching his fights for years to come.

As I went to bed last night though I began to realize the real reason I was upset at the loss and the real reason I look up to Conor as much as I do goes well beyond the sport of MMA and beyond his antics at press conferences. It goes beyond sports itself. As weird as it sounds, Conor means more to me than all that.

I have always been very proud of my Irish heritage. It’s probably my favorite thing about myself. The Irish are a reserved and proud people and I am honored to come from a line of people who worked their asses off to make it in this country when no one wanted them here. A person’s heritage is not always an important part of their life but it is for me, I’m proud to trace my family to Ireland.

I have also struggled my whole life with self-confidence. It’s actually something I have started working on a lot recently. As I have begun work for MLB.com and spend time in major league clubhouses I find myself at times thinking I don’t belong there, that I’m not good enough to be doing what I’m doing. It’s a feeling I’ve had basically my whole life, that I’m just not good enough.

It goes back a long way and I have recently come to a lot of realizations about where it all comes from but it’s still something I deal with on a daily basis.

And it’s for that reason I love Conor.

Conor is more than the face of a fighting nation. He is more than an inspiration to the citizens of a country whose people have suffered quietly for generations. Conor is the embodiment of the person I want to be. He has the confidence I only wish I can have. He believes in himself in a way I can only hope to believe in myself. Even in defeat last night he showed confidence in his abilities and belief he can still take on the world, and win.

But he not only believes in himself, he does it like no other person from Ireland has ever done it before. He does not do it quietly; he lets everyone know how much he believes in his abilities.

Conor went from a plumbing job in Ireland, living off social welfare, to becoming one of greatest fighters in the world and did that because he believed in himself to quit that job and pursue a dream. He is the perfect example of where hard work and confidence can land you.

I admire him for that. I can only hope to one day be able to look at myself in the mirror the way Conor does and believe 100% in my abilities as a student, as a reporter, as a writer, as a friend and as a person.

Conor-McGregorConor inspires me to believe in myself as a proud Irishman and to work hard everyday to get where I want to be. And I will always love him for that reason.

Whether he beats a world champion in 13 seconds, or gets choked out by another proud fighter from Stockon, CA, I’ll always be grateful for the inspiration he gives me.

As silly as I know this sounds Conor is more than an incredible athlete, more than a world-class fight promoter, he’s a hero.

So thank you Conor. Thank you for continuing to set the bar this Irishman can look to and hope one day to achieve. In victory or in defeat, I will always be grateful for that.