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Humility and a calf kick

What can transfigure someone oozing cockiness to a gentle humility? For one man, it was a calf kick.

I’m relatively new to the world of Mixed Martial Arts. So I recognise that while the MMA community was left reeling from the impact, this story may not be one that is familiar to you.

A few weeks ago UFC legend Conor McGregor stepped into the ring to compete in one of the most highly anticipated fights in a number of years.

Full of bravado and self-assurance, ‘I’m about to paint a masterpiece’ were the last words he posted online before the fight.

In a disastrous turn of events, Conor suffered a dramatic loss, taking one too many kicks to the calf. While the internet is flooded with opinions on what happened, one thing is for sure – with the odds heavily stacked in his favor (4-1), very few people saw this coming.

Something else unexpected was the way that he responded to this staggering loss with … humility: respectfully acknowledging that his opponent had fought a better fight, and accepting all the lessons that come with such a public failure.

There is something impressive about him choosing humility – his acknowledgment that there is always more to learn, and that sometimes it’s those we have underestimated who can teach us the most.

I wonder, though, how much humility would have featured if the fight had turned out differently? It’s far easier to eat humble pie when it’s the only pie available to us.

Maybe the really impressive character is the one who embraces lowliness when it isn’t being forced on them. That’s the Jesus story in a nutshell: one who deserves all respect and glory willingly choosing the path of humility, and apparent failure – yet achieving victory as a result.