Conor McGregor has been praised for donating essential funds to pay for the entire Irish amateur MMA team to compete at the Youth World Championships.
The Irishman’s generous donation will pay for Ireland’s 27-man squad along with a staff of 20 coaches to travel to Sofia in Bulgaria to compete in the IMMAF 2021 tournament from July 29 to August 1.
McGregor is footing the bill for flights, accommodation, and registration at a time when many amateur competitors would have otherwise missed out due to the economic constraints created by the pandemic.
The Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association is very proud to announce that Ireland’s MMA superstar @TheNotoriousMMA has thrown his weight behind the National Youth Squad traveling to the @IMMAFed Youth World MMA Championships 🇮🇪🇮🇪https://t.co/FMq8XFLx3y pic.twitter.com/j8cBMhqjM5— IMMAA (@IMMAAOnline) June 26, 2021
The Irish UFC star, who was recently named the highest-paid athlete in the world by Forbes, sent his best wishes to the team ahead of the competition.
He said, “Wishing the Irish squad the very best of luck in their quest at the world championships this year!
"From the fighters to the coaches, I know the future of our fighting nation is in excellent hands! Fight with the pride of the Emerald Isle, team! We are all with you! Good luck!”
McGregor’s generous actions have not gone unnoticed, with Ireland head coach Andy Ryan paying tribute to the Notorious for providing the funds at a crucial time.
“This gesture by Conor has come at a time when Irish MMA needed it most,” he said.
“Gyms were among the worst hit by the Covid pandemic and throughout 2020, thousands of young athletes were unable to train on the mats with their teammates and coaches.
"Those who persevered, trained at home, stayed focused and qualified to represent their country are now getting the ultimate thumbs up from their hero and I have no doubt this support will light a fire under the entire squad heading out to take on the rest of the world in Bulgaria.
"On behalf of the athletes, coaches, and all the gyms of IMMAA, I wish to extend a huge thanks to Conor for this incredible sponsorship."
McGregor’s gesture was also praised by his head coach John Kavanagh, who is the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association president.
It comes as the 32-year-old continues to prepare for his rematch with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in Las Vegas on July 10.
*This column first appeared in the June 30 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.