Conor McGregor earns a ton of money in UFC octagon combat, but it’s nowhere near the “billion dollars” he claims to have made on a recent Instagram post.
McGregor, who is getting ready for his next championships bout in UFV 246 against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone” on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, certainly is worth a lot of cash – about $120 million, according to a recent estimate by Forbes.
Someday the omnipresent McGregor may well reach $1 billion in net worth, and he has said in the recent past in an interview with ESPN that he expects to “reach a billy” and “be a billionaire” by age 35. Currently, the widely popular and often provocative UFC fighter is 31 years old.
Billionaire or not, the cash is rolling in for Conor McGregor. How he rose this high in the professional fighting ranks is worthy of an old-school Irish tale, and it also helps explain how he has accumulated the great wealth he’s earned today.
Let’s dig in and take a look at the brash young fighter from the Emerald Isle, who took the professional fighting circuit by storm, and is now one of the most recognizable global brands on earth.
Conor McGregor – a Kid Boxer in Dublin
Conor Anthony McGregor was born July 14, 1988 in Dublin, Ireland. He has two sisters, Erin and Aoife.
His parents, Tony and Margaret McGregor encouraged Conor to engage in sports as a youth, which he did with great relish. McGregor played soccer as a youth, but growing up in the rough-and-tumble blue-collar village of Crumlin, he learned how to use his fists and quickly developed a reputation as a tough street fighter.
At age 11, he joined the Crumlin Boxing Club where he trained as a boxer for six years, winning a Dublin Novice Championship during that timeframe. He attended school in Crumlin, as well, where he balanced soccer (or “football”) with his boxing training.
At age 18, Conor McGregor’s family moved to nearby Lucan, where he enrolled at Gaelcholáiste Coláiste Cois Life and began learning a trade – plumbing. But his love for fighting only grew more hearty after a chance meeting with Tom Egan, soon to be a professional UFC fighter, which led to the two boxers training together in the emerging sport of mixed martial arts (MMA.)
That training paid off for McGregor, who debuted as an MMA fighter at age 18 at a promotional (non-professional) fight in Dublin, squaring off with another local fighter named Kieran Campbell.
McGregor bested Campbell with a technical knockout, and caught the attention of local boxing promotors and trainers who steered McGregor toward turning professional, which he did in 2007. Soon, he began training with John Kavanagh in Dublin.
His first MMA professional fight also a victory by TKO, over Gary Morris in the fight’s second round. McGregor transitioned from fighting as a featherweight and lightweight-class fighter for his first few years as an MMA professional, winning the vast majority of his bouts.
By 2012, McGregor had embarked on an eight-fight winning streak, raising his profile as a burgeoning MMA star, and eventually getting the attention of Dana White, one of the Ultimate Fighting Championships founders. In February, 2013, only days after the two met, White offered McGregor a contract to formally fight in the UFC, and McGregor signed on the spot, making him the second Ireland native to fight under the UFC banner, after his training partner Egan.
Fighting in the UFC, McGregor won his first several bouts, but suffered a serious ligament injury that sidelined him for almost a year. Returning in 2014, McGregor won his first two “Performance of the Night Awards” given to the UFC fighter who fought best on the card that night, with one of those performances against Diego Brandao in McGregor’s home town of Dublin.
That performance helped McGregor land a new multi-year contract with the UFC, and soon landed his third “Performance of the Night Award” in early 2015 against Dennis Siver, a fight he won with a TKO in the second round.
That led to McGregor’s first crack at a championship bout, at UFC 89 in the UFC Featherweight Championship in Las Vegas, on July 11, 2015 – almost on his 27th birthday. The fight was scheduled to include featherweight stalwart Jose “Junior” Aldo, who had to pull out of the fight with an injured hand.
Taking his place was Chad Mendes, who fell to McGregor via TKO, after fellow Irish supernova Sinead O’Connor performed McGregor’s entrance song, “The Foggy Dew.” The total gate amounted to $7.2 million, at the time an MMA record, thus cementing McGregor as a global headliner in one of the world’s most popular sports.
Later that year McGregor would fight Aldo, beating him 13 seconds into the very first round for the UFC featherweight championship.
By 2016, McGregor was looking to win dual UFC championships and eventually agreed to a fight with the talented (and heavier by 20 pounds) Nate Diaz, a previous UFC Lightweight Champion.
Fisticuffs broke out between both fighters and their camps at a pre-bout press event, raising the profile of the fight.
Several days later, Diaz forced McGregor to “tap out” and concede the fight in its second round, giving Diaz the title, and awarding the younger, outweighed challenger a record $1 million purse for his effort in the bout.
Later in the year, McGregor would win a rematch against Diaz via a decision, and gain his duel championship with a victory over Eddie Alverez for the UFC Lightweight Championship November 12, in a second round knockout, thus making Conor McGregor the UFC’s first-ever fighter to hold two championships at the same time.
McGregor would raise his global profile even further the following year, earning a $100 million payday in a loss to world boxing lightweight champion Floyd Mayweather in a 10-round TKO, on August 26, 2017.
Just at the height of his popularity around the world, McGregor took a step back in 2018 and 2019, to focus on his family and build his global brand. He stepped into the ring one more time, in a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC Lightweight Championship in Las Vegas, on October 6, 2018.
The following year, Conor McGregor announced his retirement on March 26, 2019 and kept that promise until an agreement to enter the octagon one more time, against Cerrone in a welterweight bout at UFC 246.
Personal Life and Scandal
Conor McGregor and longtime partner Dee Devlin gave birth to their first child, Conor Jack McGregor, Jr., on May 5, 2017. They reportedly live a quiet life in Dublin, although McGregor has certainly made headlines from time to time via brushes with the law.
Cases in Point:
- McGregor has pled guilty to excessive speeding and has accumulated 12 driving citations, losing his license for six months after a ruling by a Dublin judge.
- In April, 2018, McGregor was cited for three counts of criminal assault, a single count of criminal mischief, along with a charge of reckless endangerment after an incident at the Barclays Center in New York, where McGregor threw a metal dolly, breaking a bus window and injuring Ray Borg and Michael Chiesa, fellow UFC fighters who had previous beefs with McGregor. Eventually, McGregor would plead “no contest” to a single count of disorderly conduct and was forced to serve five days of community service and attend anger management classes.
- Trouble would follow McGregor around. In March, 2019, he was cited by the Miami Beach police for strong-armed robbery and criminal mischief, after confronting a man and taking his mobile phone and destroying it. The case was eventually dismissed after conflicting reports on who started the altercation.
- Later that year, on August 15, McGregor assaulted a bar patron at a Dublin Pub for not taking a shot of McGregor’s branded whiskey. He was found guilty of assault in October, and ordered to make restitution to the victim.
A contentious reputation among law enforcement officials and fellow UFC fighters and executives has not stopped Conor McGregor from nailing down lucrative endorsement contracts with Dre, Monster Energy (MNST) - Get Report, Reebok, and Burger King, which amount to a reported $7 million.
He has also created his own clothing line, called August McGregor (with fashion brand David August) and has rolled out his own Irish whiskey, titled Proper No. 12 Irish Whiskey, so named after the Crumlin neighborhood of McGregor’s early Celtic roots.
Between his fighting income and his endorsements and brand deals, Conor McGregor earned $47 million in 2019, placing him 65 on the list of wealthiest global celebrities for the year.
As McGregor puts it, “There is definitely an addiction to money that I have” and it’s a mantra he lives by, as a brand champion, and even more so as a native and proud Irishman.
“We come bulletproof in Ireland,” he says. “We're reared tough, and we fight.”
That he has, and a billion dollars may be Conor McGregor’s biggest financial prize yet. As usual, nobody’s betting against him.