A week before Conor’s very first fight in the UFC against Marcus Brimmage on April 6, 2013, he collected a social welfare cheque worth €180. On his last fight against Jose Aldo on December 12, 2015, he collected a cheque to the tune of $500,000. McGregor’s transformation from his first fight in 2013 to now is one of astonishment and brilliance. He has forged a path for himself that very few people, if any, in the UFC have been able to do. As a matter of fact, Dana White (UFC president) signed McGregor to the UFC label without ever actually seeing him fight!
Whilst on a short trip to Ireland, Dana heard a lot about a young martial artist called Conor McGregor so he decided to fly him to Las Vegas for dinner and a meeting (no such thing as a Skype interview with the UFC!). When the meeting was over Dana rang his business partner Lorenzo Fertitta and said,
“I don’t know if this guy can fight but if he can even throw a punch, he’s going to be the biggest star ever”.
There was an absurd amount of risk attached to signing someone that they have never seen fight before but McGregor had already encapsulated the minds of the owners from the biggest martial arts platform in the world and made them believe he was going to be the next big thing. Little did the world know (except for McGregor, of course) that he would indeed be the next big thing.
“I don’t just knock them out, I pick the round.”
What would come next is a litany of successful fights and a barrage of trash talk with a confidence that people would kill for. As Conor said himself, “I don’t just knock them out, I pick the round.” He nicknamed himself Mystic Mac for his ability to predict how and when his fights would end. What McGregor took to the UFC is something that has never been seen before. His attitude towards the sport, training and of course, himself was one of such positivity that it is difficult not to find yourself listening to any press conferences or interviews that he is involved in. Not only this but he brings a part of Ireland with him everywhere he goes. He is a household name at this stage in Ireland and people who previously had no interest in martial arts are finding themselves setting the alarm for 4 o’clock in the morning to get up and watch Conor fight. McGregor’s drive, passion, positive mental attitude, success and determination is one which we can all learn from.