For good or bad, McGregor is seldom out of the limelight. Here's a guide for fans and non-fans alike - the essential facts on the Crumlin MMA star.
McGregor’s first UFC win
It was a little more than four years ago that Conor McGregor made his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), on April 6, 2013. His opponent was Marcus Brimage, and the match was on the undercard of a UFC TV promotion. It didn’t take The Notorious long to dust off his opponent – Brimage was done after 1:07 in the first round. Conor’s haul for the night? $71,000 – five figures that are expected to balloon to nine come Saturday night.
Conor’s got plenty of them…many of who will undoubtedly flock to the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas this Saturday night. Sinead O’Connor sang “The Foggy Dew” for McGregor two years ago in Vegas prior to his defeating Chad Mendes for the UFC featherweight crown. Colin Farrell says Conor is “an amazing representative of all the best things” from Ireland. Madonna was front row for his fight at Madison Square Garden last November, posting photos with shamrocks on her Instagram. Actor Charlie Hunnam calls him an “inspiration,” and Arnold Schwarzenegger calls Conor a friend. Fellow Irishmen Rory McIlroy and Niall Horan have been ringside to cheer their pal on. And even former Mayweather BFF and mascot Justin Bieber is a Notorious fan. He told TMZ he “doesn’t think” Mayweather will knock McGregor out. “I think it’ll be a good fight.”
The McGregor family
The McGregors, originally from Crumlin in Dublin, are extremely tight. Conor’s two sisters Erin and Aoife, and parents Tony and Margaret, will naturally be in Vegas for the biggest night of Conor’s professional life. “We can't wait to go out and support him. We're so proud of him and everything he's achieved and how far he's come. We're so happy that the nation of Ireland is behind him,” Erin McGregor said this week. Conor is hugely generous when it comes to family, regularly buying them jewelry and cars, not to mention new homes.
Yep, the bets are being laid down, big time, for the fight of the young century. Believe it or not, most of the money is going for McGregor. MGMRaceSports reported on Monday that so far, they’ve handled 277 bets for Mayweather to take the win – there are 6,000 punters going for underdog McGregor. On Tuesday, Ladbrokes reported that a gambler from the Merseyside in the U.K. plunked down £10,000 for a McGregor win at odds of 11-4. The bet will net a tidy profit of some £27,500 should Conor raise his hand in victory. Still, the odds remain in Mayweather’s favor according to the bookies – on Tuesday morning Mayweather was a prohibitive 2-7, while the odds of a draw were a healthy 33-1.
Dee and Baby Conor
The oft-used saying “behind every man is a great woman” is apropos in McGregor’s case. His girlfriend Dee Devlin has been by his side since they met in a nightclub in 2008, way before he became the global superstar he his today. She helps with his training, meal preparation and anything else he needs. If Dee isn’t around, Conor’s a different man his friends say – and not for the better. “Conor is a tough guy to reel in. He’s a tough guy to tame, and that’s exactly what she does. She tames the beast,” UFC boss Dana White told the New York Post on Sunday. (Dee was featured in a glowing story about their love story.) Baby Conor Jack McGregor was born in Dublin on Friday, May 5, and the adorable tot – Mom and Dad regularly share photos on their social media – already has a verified Instagram account himself. He’s got 73,000 followers, even though he’s yet to post anything.
McGregor has a huge presence, with 5.52 followers on Twitter, 17 million on Instagram and 6.4 million on Facebook. He’s a frequent poster and boaster too…on Tuesday he was pictured in a green sports car with the caption, “Full of Irish horse power I am going to run you over.”
It’s a mutual admiration society. They love him; he loves them more. “We’re not here to take part; we’re here to take over” is their catchphrase. Conor relishes the support and takes every opportunity to interact with his fans. In Galway last year, he posed with fans and took time to meet with one who is disabled. He’s also been known to surprise his supporters, as he did last year when he spotted a cardboard cutout of himself on someone’s balcony in Los Angeles. He got out of his sports car, knocked on the door and gave the fan the best shock of his life, posing for photos and hugs.
The coach, John Kavanagh
John Kavanagh and his Straight Blast Gym in Dublin turned Conor’s raw talent into a fine-tuned machine. The popularity of the gym, naturally, has boomed since McGregor put it on the map, and Kavanagh trains a stable of MMA aspirants. How will Conor fare against Mayweather? "When the two of them walk to the middle, one of them has to take a back step. If Floyd takes a back step -- which I believe he will -- then I predict round six (win for McGregor). That's my prediction,” he said last week.
UFC boss Dana White
UFC boss Dana White has been in McGregor’s corner every step of the way. After McGregor’s first UFC win against Brimage, White was keen to promote the charismatic Irishman as a rising star. “People are going crazy on Twitter,” White told McGregor after the match, promising him fights in Dublin and Boston. The first meeting between the two is on YouTube – Conor was hugely respectful and seemed a bit in awe – but now there’s no denying the men are equals. The UFC sold for $4 billion last year thanks in large part to the star power of McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
“Bring me on board for real. Not just as this. I need to be set for life for this. If you want me to be truly in on this then I need to be all in on this. Proper. That's a stake in the company,” McGregor told his UFC bosses after defeating Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden last year.
Mayweather on McGregor
Widely recognized as the best pound for pound boxer in the world, Floyd Mayweather doesn’t think highly of his Irish UFC opponent – or so he says publicly. Their press tour was criticized in many quarters for allegedly being racist and homophobic. Now that both fighters are deep into training, they’re keeping the talk professional.
"I don't think he's gonna make the weight," Mayweather said this week, of the 154-pound limit both fighters must adhere to.
"Even if he does make the weight, that's even better, but if he doesn't make the weight, we're still gonna fight. But it's gonna be a heavy fine. Gimme that money."
Show them the money, right? That’s the reason why Mayweather and McGregor are facing off – a massive payday. How does the balance book read so far? MMAmania.com reports that the live gate is $60 million so far and is expected to rise to $73 million once all the tickets are gone. The site also counted closed circuit revenue at $7 million; selling the feed to establishments at $15 million; sponsorships at $28 million; international TV deals at $35 million; and merchandise at $2 million. The motherload? Pay-per-view buys, estimates which range anywhere from 5.3 to 8.4 million. At $100 per buy, the total could be over $800 million.
Mayweather’s best-case take home? $350 million. Conor? $110 million. And the UFC will bank $50 mil.
* Originally published in August 2017.