Conor McGregor: 30 Facts on MMA’s Most Notorious Fighter
The combat sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is barely in its infancy as a mainstream form of competition, especially in its most modernized formats. MMA’s most popular organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) wasn’t established until 1993.
Despite the UFC’s young roots, its popularity has already reached around the globe. As fighters continue to and the sports continually climb the mountain of success, achieving more influence and popularity, no one has taken the world by storm as Conor “Notorious” McGregor.
Take a peek into the life of Ireland’s most notorious mixed martial artist, and check out some interesting facts that have helped shape one of the most fascinating, unpredictable and baddest athletes on the planet.
1. Proponent of Europe’s Pastime
Before Conor McGregor was throwing knockout punches in the octagon, he was competing as a very different kind of striker out on the pitch.
A young McGregor grew up a passionate soccer fan and played for his local club in Crumlin, Ireland.
McGregor starred as a forward, which should not come as a surprise considering his proclivity for finishing off his opponents with flair.
McGregor reportedly played up through 2011 until he had to drop the sport altogether to turn his full attention to MMA.
2. (Not So) Bully Beginnings
Don’t be fooled by McGregor’s braggadocious persona. His trash talking antics may seem ostentatious, but the gimmick only goes so far when outside the ring.
Though McGregor’s motor mouth helps hype up his fights, his MMA roots stem from a need for self-defense rather than a thirst for blood.
McGregor has been quite candid about how he was bullied in his high school. The UFC star spoke on some of the ridiculous precautionary measures he took out of fear before taking up boxing.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, even when it’s one of sports’ biggest trash talkers alive.
3. Amateur Hour
When describing McGregor’s amateur MMA career, “amateur minute” is actually far more accurate than “amateur hour.”
Hiss first ever MMA bout came in February 2007 at Ireland’s short-lived event, Ring of Truth (ROT) when an 18-year-old McGregor was pitted against fellow first-timer Ciaran Campbell.
The fight at ROT 6 offered a perfect window of the McGregor we’d come to know, as he finished off Campbell in 91 seconds.
That impressive display was all the promotion Irish Cage of Truth needed to see to sign McGregor on as a professional fighter.
4. Competitive Genes
Conor isn’t the only McGregor whose athletic prowess makes the rest of us look in the mirror in shame. The oldest of the McGregor siblings is Conor’s sister, Erin, who is a competitive (and successful) bodybuilder.
Inspired by her brother’s charismatic conquest of the UFC, Erin decided to challenge herself and began competing as a bodybuilder.
“I was totally naive going into the bodybuilding scene. There is a huge amount of sacrifice … Now I truly understand how hard Conor works,” She told Irish Mirror.
Erin’s built an impressive resume of her own working as a fitness model and even competing on Season 26 of Dancing with the Stars.
5. Nosebleed Seats to Nosebleeds
Well before McGregor started making noise in the UFC, he got a firsthand taste of the rowdiness when the promotion came to Dublin, Ireland at The O2 (now 3Arena).
In January 2009, McGregor attended UFC 93: Franklin vs. Henderson.
Seeing some of the greatest mixed martial artists compete on his turf undoubtedly lit a fire under the aspiring star.
Some five years later, the Irishman found himself headlining UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Brandao in the very arena he first visited as a fan.
A first-round victory only made his return sweeter.
6. Different Paths
Thankfully for the MMA world (and all things sports entertainment), McGregor made an extremely bold decision when considering his profession and future.
After working an apprenticeship as a plumber for 18 months in Kilternan, Ireland, McGregor decided to drop everything and fully plunge into MMA.
Fortunately, McGregor had a perfect fighting friend.
McGregor transitioned from boxing to MMA when he began sparring with his buddy, Tom Egan, who would go on to be the first Irish fighter to compete in the UFC (the same event McGregor first attended in Dublin).
Thanks to Egan, we get The Notorious who rocks championship belts, not tool belts.
Conor McGregor has achieved a level of professional success that puts him in the books as one of the greatest athletes in combat sports history.
Before his legendary career exploded in the UFC, McGregor’s future was an uncertain one.
After winning his first two fights, McGregor suffered his first loss to Artemij Sitenkov in Cage of Truth 3 in 1:09.
In McGregor’s sixth fight, he tallied a second loss to fellow Irishman and future UFC fighter Joseph Duffy in just 0:38.
8. Love at First Sight
Sorry, ladies. McGregor may be one of the hottest commodities on the market, but this star athlete has had a special someone long before he became a household name.
Longtime girlfriend Dee Devlin has been by McGregor’s side since day one.
Devlin’s done it all, supporting McGregor when he was essentially an unemployed fighter hoping to catch a break.
She took her responsibilities so serious, when McGregor’s career finally took off, he actually hired Devlin to handle his finances as an official member of Team McGregor.
Now that is a ride or die we’d like by our side.
9. Face of the Fighting Irish
McGregor’s popularity has risen to such a prominent status that, in ways, he’s seemingly transcended the UFC altogether. Agree or not, no fighter represents Ireland the way McGregor does.
Although Joseph Duffy got the better of McGregor at Cage Warriors 39, it’s The Notorious who holds the honor of Ireland’s first UFC champion.
As for his supporters, McGregor may as well plant an Irish flag outside whatever arena he fights to claim his territory.
Essentially, hoards of Irish fans following their hero to wherever he may fight is combat sports’ version of what Deadheads are to the Grateful Dead.
10. Luck of the Irish
After losing to Joseph Duffy, McGregor went on a tear, bulldozing his way through eight decisive wins in a row.
UFC president Dana White’s serendipitous visit to Ireland in February 2013 (shortly after McGregor’s eight-win streak) to Trinity College opened a new door to McGregor’s MMA odyssey.
Locals continually badgered White story: he needs to sign McGregor to the UFC.
The overwhelming support was enough for White to set up a meeting with McGregor. The meeting went so well that White offered McGregor a contract without ever even seeing him fight.
11. Rags to Riches
The early struggles McGregor faced were as real as they get. By leaving his plumber’s apprenticeship to pursue MMA, he really didn’t have a steady income being so new to the sport.
It was after McGregor beat Marcus Brimage in his first UFC fight in Stockholm, Sweden when he revealed just how rough things were.
McGregor knocked Brimage out in 1:07, earning him Knockout of the Night and a $60,000 bonus along with it.
“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,” McGregor announced after the fight.
12. No Wasted Time
As soon as McGregor entered the UFC’s octagon, he climbed on a ladder leading straight to the top.
The Notorious lived up to his nickname, tearing through opponents to win six straight fights including the interim UFC Featherweight Championship over Chad Mendes at UFC 189.
The interim champion victory over Mendes secured a fourth straight Performance of the Night and set him up against Jose Aldo at UFC 194.
It took 13 seconds for McGregor’s fist to meet Aldo’s chin and put him to sleep, making McGregor the undisputed featherweight champ (in a fifth consecutive Performance of the Night.)
Any casual MMA fans thinking toughness trumps preparation and strategy can look to McGregor’s masterful 13-second knockout of Aldo to see the value in meticulous attention to detail.
McGregor didn’t clip Aldo’s chin and catch him on the sweet spot, he straight up predicted exactly how it’d happen.
He may be The Notorious to most, but there’s good reason many know McGregor as Mystic Mac too.
McGregor read the tea leaves (or film… probably film) and read Aldo like a book.
Scrupulous study allowed the Irishman drop his opponent like a sack of potatoes.
14. Inspired by Another World’s Greatest
Like so many other fighters, McGregor was inspired by two greats before him.
One is Bruce Lee, whose experimental approach to martial arts led to the creation of Jeet Kune Do, an influential predecessor to MMA.
McGregor’s other hero is Muhammad Ali, whom he refers to as his “first combat sports star.”
From Ali’s innovative style in the ring to the flow of his legendary trash talk, it’s no wonder The Notorious appreciates all that The World’s Greatest has done.
15. Fantasy Fight
There are a couple stadiums McGregor said he’s dreamed of fighting in. One of those places was NYC’s Madison Square Garden, which he accomplished in 2016 when facing Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight Championship at UFC 205.
The granddaddy, though, is Croke Park.
Located in Dublin, Ireland, Croker Park is one of the most iconic landmarks in the country.
As some added incentive, landing a fight at this historic site would make McGregor the first fighter to showcase in Croker since his idol, Muhammad Ali, entered the ring to face Al Lewis back in 1972.
16. Twice as Nice
When Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez squared off for the Lightweight Championship at UFC 205 history was on the line.
Having already defeated Aldo for the Featherweight Championship, McGregor got the chance to become the UFC’s first ever simultaneous multi-division champ.
That’s exactly what McGregor did.
To follow up the fastest title fight in UFC history (13-second KO of Aldo), McGregor doubled the history by whooping Alvarez and strapping on a second belt.
After starting his pro career as the first multi-division champ (featherweight, lightweight) in Cage Warriors Fighting Championship, McGregor did the same thing at the highest level and biggest stage in the world.
17. Europe’s ‘Ultimate Fighter’
Once McGregor established himself as one of the UFC’s top talents who lives for the limelight, the Dubliner earned a spot The Ultimate Fighter 22 as a coach for The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber.
The season debuted in September 2015 and featured Urijah “California Kid” Faber in charge of fighters from the United States while McGregor’s team consisted of fighters across Europe.
Unlike the seasons prior, McGregor and Faber were never put on the card to duke it out in the octagon.
18. Must-Watch Madness
The world is rightfully enamored with McGregor. It doesn’t matter who his opponent is, if McGregor’s name is on the card, it is much-watch entertainment.
The Notorious has mustered an ungodly number of Pay-Per-Views and holds four of the five best-selling PPV events in MMA history.
Atop his four top buy rates is his rematch against Nate Diaz, UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor 2, which holds the PPV record (for MMA) at a reported 1.65 million purchases. It’s estimated that the unforgettable fight generated $82.5 million.
19. The Notorious Night Terror
“You snooze, you lose.”
That age-old proverb rings true for McGregor. Well, his opponents, at least. McGregor’s approach to mastering every aspect of MMA all boils down to one thing – obsession.
Ask McGregor what’s on his mind morning, noon or night – it’s fighting.
In an interview with GQ, McGregor was asked about his training routine to which he responded, “Sometimes I train in the middle of the night, all on my own. Can’t sleep, don’t want to sleep, get up, go to the gym, work,” before rattling off the many intricacies of his daily regime.
Opponents better not sleep on the man. He sure isn’t sleeping on them.
20. Dedicated Dojo
John Kavanagh of Straight Blast Gym – Ireland first took McGregor under his wing in 2008.
Kavanagh, a second-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has done so well with his star pupil that the World MMA Awards nominated him for Coach of the Year in 2016 and awarded him the honor the following year.
Kavanagh was amongst the first wave of MMA fighters around the United Kingdom.
Amongst other fighters to train under Kavanagh at SBG – Ireland and reach the UFC include Gunnar Nelson, Artem Lobov, Patrick Holohan and more.
21. Melting Like Butter
Apparently, Conor McGregor’s metabolic state is equivalent to that of a microwave, because the man has an innate ability to melt fat like butter.
Eight days before UFC 189, McGregor told UFC commentator and former fighter Chael Sonnen that he weighed in at “around 172 lbs.”
Ready for this?
The featherweight division is 136-145 lb … That means McGregor had to cut 27 lbs to make weight.
Let’s check that again. Eight days. Twenty-seven pounds. SHEESH.
Either McGregor got himself a human-sized George Foreman Grill to melt that fat or the gods of war helped tip the scales in his favor.
22. Wild Ink
The McGregor who first entered the UFC in 2013 looks like a very different man compared to The Notorious we know today.
In his UFC debut, McGregor’s front side is a blank canvas. That has changed in a big, bold, colorful way.
Now he’s covered in all sorts of wild ink. Whether or not there’s meaning behind each tattoo may remain a mystery.
Take the massive chest piece of a gorilla (added below the original neck crown) chomping a heart.
Explanations to its inspiration include “It doesn’t mean a thing” and “I just like the way it looks,” yet it sure seems to be a spin off his team – SBG Ireland – logo of a gorilla.
23. ‘The Celtic Tiger’
Keeping with the animal theme, McGregor added some more wildlife beneath his heart-crunching gorilla king with an apex predator.
A tiger face covers McGregor’s abdomen between “McGregor” and “Notorious” (in case you forget).
Why the tiger? Well, it’s definitely an inspiring story…
“I said ‘f**k it, I’m gonna get a tiger…’ I think it’s a courageous animal.”
Yep, sounds like McGregor.
McGregor loves the name as much as he loves studying the predator’s moves and, honestly, “The Celtic Tiger” is a very clever play on “The Boom” the Dubliner brings.
24. Animal in the Octagon
McGregor is studying animals, imitating their movements and straight up inking wildlife all over his body. The Notorious has full on unleashed the beast in a way that’s channeled a primal monster.
How bad is this man? McGregor’s won a fight with a torn ACL.
Let’s spell that out and really let it sink in. In his second UFC fight, McGregor defeated Max Holloway despite hearing “a big pop” that sent a shot of pain through his body in the second round that turned out to be a torn ACL.
If winning an MMA match on one leg still isn’t crazy enough, consider the fact McGregor won by decision, meaning he had to finish the second round and still duke it out for a third five-minute round.
25. Cash Cow
Conor McGregor is the face of MMA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the face of boxing. Put them together and it’s like a magical vacuum switched on to suck up all of our money and, honestly, we’re totally cool with that.
Striking gold was guaranteed when McGregor, the promotional genie he is, decided to cross over to boxing to face Mayweather, who was looking to claim history and surpass Rocky Marciano (49-0) undefeated with 50 wins.
The execution by Money Mayweather and The Notorious was flawless every step of the way, as the fight garnered the second highest buy rate in PPV boxing history at 4.3 million via HBO and Showtime.
Feel free to hate on McGregor for losing, but it’s hard to call someone who made a reported $100 million off his pro boxing debut a “loser.”
There are no ifs, ands or buts, Conor McGregor has attained the type of glory that few athletes ever have. As the adage goes, “To the victor go the spoils.”
Between the endorsements, headline fights and Mayweather match that doubled as a personal Brinks truck delivery, McGregor is dripping in gold like royalty and, well, according to The Notorious, he is the richest athlete on earth, which would make him king.
In a tweet laden with name drops and jabs at celebs, McGregor tweeted this to let us know he’s getting that paper:
“I am also really interested to see this years Forbes highest paid athletes list. I have now surpassed @cristiano Ronaldo as I told him I would in 2015. Floyd as a retired fighter that makes ZERO substantial revenue outside of them ropes is not on the list, and in the long game, is already dead. Mixed Martial Arts is a glorious game, Floyd.”
27. New York, Notorious, No Problem
Always one for the theatrics, McGregor took his antics a bit too far before UFC 223 when he showed up at the Barclays Center to address some beef with headliner Khabib Nurmagomedov.
McGregor’s unannounced arrival was a wild one, as video showed his crew on a rampage in the loading docks, including a nice highlight of The Notorious heaving a barricade through a bus window Nurmagomedov was on.
The absurd incident that “totally wasn’t to hype up a potential fight” resulted in numerous injuries and led to the cancellation of three fights, yet McGregor still came out a winner.
After seemingly all of NYC was put on alert with the NYPD on a manhunt for him, McGregor turned himself in and walked away with a paltry $50K bail and didn’t even get slapped with a travel restriction.
28. Respect the Hustle
Back in 2015, UFC star Miesha Tate tweeted that she would no longer be signing fan mail sent to her as a result of so many autograph hunters simply looking to sell it to make money.
Though it’s understandable for any celebrity to be fed up with signing an insane number of memorabilia and snapping pics, our favorite Dubliner respects the hustle.
Tate’s timing wasn’t great, as a couple weeks prior to her comments, McGregor portrayed a polar opposite attitude on collecting autographs to sell:
“They get through the hustle of standing out there in the cold, getting the pictures printed, showing up. At the end of the day, they are fans of the show. They understand the fighters, they understand the pictures, they understand everything. So they’re fans. Let them make a few quid (dollars).”
Like a true man of the people, McGregor empathizes with those willing to do whatever it takes to make a dollar, as he knows full well what it’s like to be dead broke.
29. Mastering the Mind
Author Jack Canfield has inspired lives all around the world with his most famous series, Chicken Soup for the Soul. His works have been reached the New York Times Best Seller list, but it was one piece, The Key to Living the Law of Attraction: The Secret to Creating the Life of Your Dreams, that hit home with McGregor.
There’s no one better than McGregor to say just how he feels about Canfield’s work. It may not be flowery, but his point is clear, it’s “some good sh**.”
Eat your heart out, Rhonda Byrne. When McGregor wants to channel his positive energy, creative visualization is
The Secret “The Key” to his success.
30. Another Notorious?
After McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016 to claim the Lightweight Championship, he announced that he would take a break from MMA to prepare for his longtime partner, Dee Devlin, to give birth.
(The extra downtime also offered some nice breathing room for McGregor to promote the Mayweather fight.)
On May 5, 2017, Devlin gave birth to their first child, Conor Jack McGregor Jr. and McGregor’s IG account has been a whole lot cuter since.
Maybe someday we’ll have another Notorious stepping into the ring… or Mystic Mac Jr. Yep, that’s the one right there.
Remember, when Conor “Mystic Mac Jr.” McGregor Jr. is the hottest fighter in the world, telling the world “I’m loving it” after fights and promoting a McDonald’s campaign to play off pop’s Burger King sponsorship… you heard it here first.