There are only a few people who get to witness the hands of Conor McGregor go to work in the practise room. There are fewer still who get to help prepare them.
For Tommy McCormack, longtime cut-man and hand wrapper in combat sports, ahead of McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather, he finds himself at the epicentre of the epicentre. Before McGregor goes to work in the ring, first McCormack must do his job, protecting the $100 million assets both before – and on – fight night.
It’s latest and greatest stage for an already colourful career.
“Boxing’s been my thing, I’m a boxing man originally,” McCormack said. “The MMA scene gave me my opening, [but] from there I went back to just boxing. Boxing, boxing, boxing. And boxing’s been very good to me, it’s down to that, that I’m here now.
“Then I got introduced to the world of Muay Thai. For a cutman, that’s the place to be. There’s some serious cuts in that you know. I think if you practise doing cuts in a sport like Muay Thai, nothing will faze you.”
But while the disciplines of combat sports might have changed, there has been a consistent trait throughout McCormack’s career. For fighters, their hands are their weapons, the tools of their trade. Any issues with those — particularly during competition — and problems tend to go from bad to worse quite quickly.
As such, having a person wrap your hands and treat your cuts can become a personal choice and a valued relationship. For McCormack, it’s all about trust.
“There’s trust there. If we’re looking after the fighters, you want to have good hands, because you rely in them,” McCormack said. “[In boxing] that’s all we’ve got, we’ve only got our hands. Because if we mess up our hands, thats us out of the fight, we cant rely on a bit of grappling, or do a bit of kicking or do whatever’s needed. So you need to be forward thinking, and I think MMA is really leading the way to when it comes to looking after their fighters.”
Unsurprisingly, that trust and relationship formed is important. Even leading to McCormack to work exclusively with people he can get behind.
“I care about the fighters,” he said. “If I’m in [your] corner, I’m 100% with you. I’ve never been in the corner of a guy and not wanted him to win, I’ve never been in the corner of a guy, and not felt that I really want to be there. I only work with people that I like working with.”
Which leads us to his current role — preparing the hands of UFC champion Conor McGregor in what will likely go down as the biggest fight in history. It’s been a busy schedule, with McCormack relocating to Las Vegas to live amongst McGregor’s sparring partners.
It’s an opportunity he’s not taking lightly.
“There’s so many good cutmen out there that are looking for this work, you don’t always get,” McCormack said. “To get this? This is life changing. You can try to win the Lotto every week. You can’t try to do Conor’s corner in the fight against Floyd Mayweather every week.
“That’s once in a lifetime. This is massive. And again, being that I’m a boxing guy, to be involved in massive, massive boxing fight — probably the biggest of my generation — that’s as good as winning the Lotto. Even without anything else, just to be here, just to be in the corner. That’s crazy, you know?”