When Conor McGregor rushed to finish off an already beaten Donald Cerrone in January 2020, it looked like his glorious comeback was well and truly underway.
‘The Notorious’ landed a perfectly placed headbutt to the side of the UFC veteran’s jaw before finishing him on the ground and celebrating on his knees in relief.
After a 15-month absence from the octagon, the former two-weight world champion was back – albeit briefly – in the Ultimate Fighting Championship spotlight and earned an estimated £1.6million per SEC .
However, hopes for the ‘season’ were soon dashed and fans had to wait another year to see him in action again when he met Dustin Poirier for the second time. It didn’t go to plan and neither did the third meeting, also in 2021, but it made both men even richer.
Money, however, is no longer an issue for the Irishman; becoming the UFC’s first-ever ‘champ-champ’, his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather and the launch of ‘Proper 12 Irish Whiskey’ and a new pub mean he’ll never have to fight again.
Yet the lure of competition will always seem too much for McGregor to resist and his love of fighting has taken him from unemployment to the brink of billionaire.
However, it wasn’t all fast cars and caviar for McGregor. He was actually REJECTED by the UFC nearly a decade ago due to the saturation of the featherweight division at the time.
Instead, he moved up to lightweight and knocked out Cage Warriors champion Ivan Buchinger and earned his place in the world’s premier MMA organization the hard way.
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After impressing UFC President Dana White at a dinner party, the MMA chief recruited the up-and-coming fighter, believing he had all the abilities to become a superstar through his charisma alone.
During an interview with TSN’s Michael Landsberg, White said of his first impressions, “Look, I don’t know if this guy can fight, but if he can even throw a punch, he’s going to be a huge star.”
Not only can McGregor throw a punch, but he can also knock opponents unconscious with his fists and is even able to predict when the stoppage will come.
Following his first-round win over Marcus Brimage on his 2013 debut, White gave McGregor a $50,000 bonus for his performance on top of his salary for showing up and picking up the win.
Business between the pair was booming and, after promising the Irishman the chance to fight in his home country and also in Boston, the two met for a meeting that resulted in a Ferrari race. around Vegas.
Clearly not yet accustomed to such a lavish lifestyle, McGregor recorded the encounter for the enjoyment of his social media followers and his infectious laugh was only drowned out by the supercar’s engine.
It left a lasting impression on him as he revealed in 2021 that he had ordered a limited edition Ferrari Spyder, which had a starting price of around $500,000.
Having won £385,000 in just 13 seconds in his 2015 demolition of Jose Aldo to win his first title – the featherweight strap – the McGregor hype train was quickly starting to pick up and he culminated with his second UFC crown in New York.
Before dismantling Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 (a performance that earned him almost £60,000 per strike), the Crumlin native spent $55,000 (£41,000) on a Gucci mink coat for his appearance in press conference.
He arrived at Madison Square Garden in a bespoke £280,000 Rolls Royce Ghost and admitted he was addicted to working out and shopping.
Speaking to the UFC on-board camera crew, McGregor said: “I have an unhealthy obsession with spending money. But I have a healthy obsession with doing it – so it’s fine.
A loss to fierce rival Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018 was punishment for the proud Irishman, but UFC 229’s main event is still the most-watched in company history.
It was bought by 2.4 million people in the United States alone, while 17,835 paid to enter the T-Mobile Arena to watch it and, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, gross sales exceeded $17 million.
In fact, he owns six of the biggest MMA gates in Las Vegas history.
The Irishman is aiming to create more magic in 2022 when he returns from injury, with Poirier a rumored opponent, while he was also set to complete what will be a hugely lucrative trilogy with Nate Diaz and has even hinted at the challenge from welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
However, regardless of his fights next year or the number of extra zeros he can add to his bank account and the cars of his considerable fleet, “The Notorious” is still the same fighter at heart who shouted stronger than White’s tires on their nightly cruise through Sin City.