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 and getting ready for the biggest fight of his career — 12 rounds in a boxing ring against the undefeated Floyd “Money” Mayweather — and the likely nine-figure payday that will come with it.
But while McGregor is a natural to the superstar life, it wasn’t something he was born into. Coming from a working-class family from the suburbs of Dublin, Ireland, 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 Conor McGregor’s rise to the top of the world.
Conor McGregor was born on July 14, 1988 to his parents Tony and Mags. His parents claim he was born with clenched fists.
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.
In Dublin, McGregor would meet his now longtime coach John Kavanagh. After going into one of Kavanagh's gyms in Dublin, 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.'
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.
When gave up plumbing in order 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.'
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.
'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.
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.
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.
After his 4-2 start, Conor would win his next 8 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.
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 ever post to his now infamous Instagram account.
Just a week before that fight he had picked up a welfare check for €188 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.
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 very profitable relationship.
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 170lbs, 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 favourite 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. Mayweather would use this loss as fodder to mock Conor in the lead up to their fight.
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.
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.
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 v. Diaz 2 was set for UFC 202.
The fight was an absolute bloodbath, thrilling fight fans across the globe. 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 in that it went all five rounds. Both fighters would once again receive Fight of the Night honours, 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 arse whooping and I'll see you later.'
Conor would win by TKO in the second round to 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. Rumours that negotiations were underway began swirling.
On May 5, 2017, Conor Jack McGregor Jr. was born. McGregor often shows himself as a happy dad on his Instagram page.
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 to his Instagram page, trolling the undefeated boxer.
Since the announcement, the build to the fight on August 26 has been 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.
At their next confrontation in front of a particularly frisky crowd in Toronto, McGregor called out Mayweather's rumoured illiteracy, much to the delight of those who had gathered to watch the press conference.
But McGregor wasn't without his detractors. He faced accusations of racism after some of his comments on the tour.
Conor is not one to apologise and not backed down, only promising to 'break his face' when he meets Floyd Mayweather in the ring.
Additionally, some have mocked the fighter for the workout sessions McGregor has made public, especially his bag work and his warm-up routine.
But Conor is as confident in his ways as ever, and doesn't plan on changing what has been a winning formula for him. 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.'
We won't know if the strategy pays off for him in the ring until the opening bell sounds on Saturday, August 26 in Las Vegas.
But regardless of what happens in the fight, McGregor has got to feel pretty good. He's already assured himself he'll make at least $100 million for his time. 'I will clear the $100 million mark. 100-per cent.'
The fight will cost $99.95 if you want to watch in high definition, and is available through Showtime.
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