How Conor McGregor went from Dublin plumber to the king of combat sports

Conor McGregor is one of the most dominant fighters alive.

A two-division champion in UFC, McGregor now finds himself as the king of combat sports, living a lavish life earning a nine-figure payday with the help of a dubious boxing match against Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

But while McGregor is a natural to the superstar life, it wasn’t something into which he was born. Coming from a working-class family from the suburbs of Dublin, McGregor found his way through childhood gyms, a stint as a plumber’s apprentice, and eventual worldwide fame as the most “Notorious” fighter on the planet, and the biggest name in the UFC.

Below we take a look a McGregor’s rise to the top of the world.


Conor McGregor was born on July 14, 1988, to parents Tony and Mags. They claim he was born with clenched fists.

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Source: Bleacher Report


McGregor would spend his youth in Crumlin, a suburb of Dublin. Once his interest in Manchester United gave way to an interest in fighting, he would train in at the Crumlin Boxing Club.

Source: ESPN


In Dublin, McGregor would meet his now longtime coach, John Kavanagh. After going into one of Kavanagh’s gyms, McGregor beat up two of the best fighters there in a sparring session that he took a bit too seriously. Kavanagh responded by “pinning him and throwing heavy blows until Conor promised he was there for training and not for a street brawl.”

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The Reign Begins

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Source: ESPN


Uninterested in school, McGregor took to plumbing as a trade and did what he could to make it a living for some time. There were times when he would work 12-hour days before heading to the gym to train as a fighter. It was around this time that he started dating his longtime girlfriend, Dee Devlin.

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Throwing it back to almost 5 years ago!!! ???? #FBF

A post shared by Dee Devlin (@deedevlin1) on

Source: Bleacher Report


When gave up plumbing to train full time, his parents disapproved of the decision, so much so he and his father came to blows. “You’ll be sorry when I’m a millionaire,” he told his father. “I remember saying, at 25 years of age I will be a self-made millionaire.”

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Source: Bleacher Report


That said, he hasn’t forgotten those roots. Just before McGregor left Ireland to train for his fight against Mayweather in Las Vegas, craftsman Trevor Sweeney drove over to his house and dropped off a project he had been working on for six months: a chess set made from plumber’s materials, emblazoned with McGregor’s logo.

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Chess is a great game.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

Source: ESPN


“When you look at that board,” Sweeney said of the piece, “it represents your journey from an apprentice plumber to a king.” That journey began when Conor committed to fighting professionally.

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Source: ESPN


McGregor took part in his first MMA fight on March 8, 2008, for the London-based promotion Cage Warriors, defeating Gary Morris by TKO in the second round. He would go 4-2 through his first six fights before starting the winning streak that would take him to international fame.

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Source: Bleacher Report


During that run of early fights, McGregor attended his first-ever UFC event, and caught Chuck Liddell’s attention long enough to snag a selfie. It’s the type of encounter McGregor would soon find himself on the other side of often.

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Source: ESPN


After his 4-2 start, Conor would win his next eight fights, all within the first two rounds, and become a two-division champion of Cage Warriors. Buzz continued to grow and he was eventually booked for his first fight with UFC.

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On April 6, 2013, McGregor made his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage, winning by knockout in the first round. The win was not only his UFC debut, but later led to the first post to his now (in)famous Instagram account.

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Source: Yahoo


Just a week before that fight he had picked up a welfare check for 188 euros to help him get by, but McGregor took home the prize for Knockout of the Night that night and the $60,000 bonus that came with it. Later in life, he would name his boat “The 188” in memory of those checks.

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The 188.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

Source: ESPN


UFC president Dana White was immediately impressed with McGregor. “Let me put it this away: I’m blown away,” White said after McGregor’s debut in Stockholm. “First of all, it’s his first fight ever in the UFC. He walked out tonight and got into the octagon like it was his 100th fight in the UFC.” It was the beginning of a profitable relationship.

Source: Yahoo


From there, Conor’s run of dominance continued. He won five more fights, four of which didn’t make it through two rounds, and claimed the interim UFC Featherweight Championship against Chad Mendes.


This put McGregor in a position to face Jose Aldo in a unification bout for the UFC Featherweight Championship. In the lead-up to the fight, McGregor was as cocky as ever, saying “I’m going to unify the belts, I’m going to destroy the [featherweight] division, and then I’m going to take the lightweight division as well.”

Source: MMAFighting


On December 12, 2015, McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds. It was the fastest finish ever for a UFC title fight. Again, it was his unstoppable left that did the job.


True to his word, McGregor set out to win in the lightweight division, and a fight with Rafael dos Anjos for the title was set for UFC 196 in March, but dos Anjos had to withdraw after breaking his foot, leading former lightweight contender Nate Diaz to step up on short notice to face McGregor.


Diaz had been training as a welterweight at 170 pounds, and McGregor decided he would gain the weight to meet him there, jumping two weight classes in just two weeks. “Weight should never be an issue,” he said. “Champions should be able to go up and down and fight any challenge that comes before them.”


McGregor was the heavy favorite going into the fight, but would get caught in the second round and end up tapping out after Diaz locked in a rear-naked chokehold, giving McGregor the only loss of his UFC career.


Despite his shocking loss to Nate Diaz, in 2016 McGregor became the first mixed martial artist to appear on Forbes list of the 100 highest-paid athletes, taking $22 million on the year between his fight with Diaz, Aldo, and a variety of sponsorships.

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This week’s profit.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

Source: Rolling Stone


Additionally, 2016 saw McGregor’s profile rise further with a spread in ESPN’s Body Issue, with Conor bearing all in a photoshoot for the magazine.

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ESPN Body Issue 2016!

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After a series of negotiations that included McGregor being dropped from the UFC 200 for refusing to go on a press tour promoting the fight, “McGregor-Diaz 2” was set for UFC 202.


The fight was a bloodbath, thrilling fans around the world. It would go down as one of McGregor’s most memorable performances in the octagon.


In the end, McGregor outlasted Diaz in a rare fight for Conor that went all five rounds. Both fighters would once again receive “Fight of the Night” honors, with Conor winning by majority decision.


Just three months later, he would challenge Eddie Alvarez for the UFC Lightweight Championship. The fight was set for UFC 205. In the prelude to the fight McGregor showed his normal confidence, telling his opponent to “Show up, take your ass whooping, and I’ll see you later.”

Source: Daily Star


Conor would win by TKO in the second round and become a two-division champion. After the win, McGregor said that he would take time off from fighting to wait for the birth of his child.


During that time off, McGregor began pushing for a boxing match against Mayweather, bringing it up at public appearances and on social media like the Instagram post below. Rumors that negotiations were underway began swirling.

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I am going to break his face

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on


On May 5, 2017, Conor Jack McGregor Jr. was born. McGregor often shows himself as a happy dad on Instagram.

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Source: MMAFighting


A month later, it was announced that the fight was officially on. Mayweather and McGregor would meet in the ring in Las Vegas for what would surely be the biggest fight of the year. McGregor made the announcement official with a post on Instagram, trolling the undefeated boxer.

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THE FIGHT IS ON.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

Read more: The Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor mega-fight is officially set


The build to the fight on August 26 was fast and furious. Both Mayweather and McGregor set out on a four-city tour to promote the fight, trading verbal jabs and obscenities along the way.


At the kickoff to the tour in Los Angeles, McGregor made headlines with his wardrobe, wearing a custom suit with pinstripes that read “F— You” to anyone who got close enough to see it.

Read more: Conor McGregor wore a custom suit to the Mayweather press conference with a vulgar message sewn into it


At their next confrontation in front of a particularly frisky crowd in Toronto, McGregor called out Mayweather’s rumored illiteracy, much to the delight of those who had gathered to watch the press conference.

Read more: ‘You can’t even read!’ – Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather’s war of words continues to escalate


But McGregor wasn’t without his detractors. He faced accusations of racism after some of his comments on the tour.

Read more: Conor McGregor is coming under fire for making more racially driven comments during his Floyd Mayweather fight press tour


Not one to apologize, Conor did not back down, only promising to “break his face” when he met Mayweather in the ring.

Read more: Conor McGregor pledges to ‘break’ Floyd Mayweather’s face in viral trailer


Experts didn’t give McGregor much of a chance to beat Mayweather, with former champion Mike Tyson saying of Conor simply, “He’s gonna get killed.”

Read more: ‘He’s gonna get killed’ – Mike Tyson weighs in on McGregor’s chances against Mayweather


Additionally, some mocked McGregor for training sessions he made public, especially his bag work and his warm-up routine.

Read more: Conor McGregor’s bizarre warm-up routine got roasted by a world champion boxer in a viral video


Many were surprised that the McGregor team didn’t bring more coaches with boxing experience, but Coach Kavanagh chose to keep things simple, saying “Too much new stuff … would be a disaster.”


McGregor never really stood a chance against Mayweather, and was eventually dispatched by TKO in the 10th round.

Read more: Floyd Mayweather takes out Conor McGregor in epic fight


But despite the loss, McGregor is still surely pleased with the result, earning a rumored $100 million for his role in the circus of a fight.

Source: MMA Fighting


After the Mayweather fight, McGregor took a bit more time off to enjoy his riches.

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Dons under 30.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on


He took in the 2018 World Cup final…

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And did so as a personal guest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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But soon enough, there was reason to tease his return to the UFC.

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In the name of fighting ????

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on


His natural opponent was Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated Russian fighter who had taken over as champion of the lightweight division in McGregor’s absence.


Things came to a head when McGregor bizarrely attacked a bus Nurmagomedov was on ahead of UFC 223, leading to several injuries to other fighters.

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Read more: Conor McGregor stormed a UFC press conference and attacked a bus in a bizarre and chaotic scene


McGregor would later explain that he was acting to protect his teammate Artem Lobov, who was confronted by Nurmagomedov at a hotel.

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Read more: We’re learning more about what led to Conor McGregor’s bizarre attack on a bus of fighters at a UFC event


McGregor would be taken into custody and charged with assault for his attack, but ultimately got off relatively unscathed.

Read more: Plea deal opens the door for Conor McGregor to return for UFC’s biggest fight in years – but he will have to attend anger management class


And thus, the stage was set for a fight between McGregor and Khabib for the UFC lightweight title.


UFC even used footage of McGregor’s attack on the bus to promote the upcoming fight.

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The fight is set for UFC 229, on Saturday, October 7.

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Win or lose, McGregor will still be fighting in the octagon for some time to come, having signed a six-fight deal with the UFC that should make for plenty more amazing fights in the future.

Read more: Conor McGregor struck a big deal with UFC to promote his whiskey – and it also includes 6 more fights


Now check out our preview of the big fight.

We analysed who will win the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor fight – and the answer is clear

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