Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather begin a promotional tour on Tuesday for a fight that is expected to pay the fighters $US100 million each.
For McGregor, the multimillion-dollar fight and Hollywood-esque, four-city promotional tour is a far cry from where he was just four years ago.
McGregor exploded onto the scene in his first UFC fight in 2013. After making a name for himself in the Irish mixed martial arts scene, McGregor knocked out Marcus Brimage in 67 seconds in Oslo, Sweden in his UFC debut.
Days before booking a flight to Oslo for the fight, McGregor had collected a welfare check from the Irish government for $US235, according to Yahoo’s Kevin Iole.
McGregor was working as an apprentice plumber in Ireland when he decided the life wasn’t for him. He told The Guardian’s Donald McRae in 2015:
“It just wasn’t for me. I was waking at 5am and walking in the dark, freezing cold until I reached the motorway and waited for a guy I didn’t even know to take me to the site, where I worked for 12 hours and then got driven back and walked home. I know there are passionate, skilled plumbers. But I had no love for plumbing.”
McGregor quit plumbing and pursued an MMA career, losing two of his first three professional fights before going on a nine-fight winning streak and earning his first UFC contract in 2013. When he knocked out Brimage, he won a $US60,000 bonus for “Knockout of the Night.”
After his 2013 debut, McGregor reflected on his rise and collecting welfare days before. He also hinted at his desire for a flashy lifestyle in the future (via Yahoo).
“Just last week I was collecting the social welfare. I was in there saying to them, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m signed to the UFC. I don’t know. Blah, blah, blah.’ Now I suppose I’m just going to have to tell them [expletive] off.
“To be honest, I don’t know what’s going on here. I’m just up here hearing $US60,000. I’m just thinking of what I’m going to spend it on. Maybe a nice car and some suits or something, some custom-made suits. I don’t know … I’m making money here, I didn’t have money before this, you know. Like I said, I was collecting 180 Euros a week off the social welfare and here I am and I’ve got 60 G’s bonus and my own pay.”
Dana White was also blown away by McGregor’s debut, saying after the fight in 2013, “I’m blown away. 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 … Kid is totally relaxed. He’s a beast. I’m impressed.”
McGregor never looked back. He won eight of his nine UFC fights, with just one loss coming to Nate Diaz in 2016.
There’s no telling how McGregor’s bout against Mayweather will go — most expect Mayweather to easily outclass McGregor in what could be a dull fight. But regardless, McGregor will never have to go back to plumbing or welfare.