Conor McGregor's incredible journey in UFC from apprentice plumber to multimillionaire whiskey founder

CONOR McGREGOR has gone from picking up a weekly £165 dole cheque to becoming UFC's biggest superstar.

But last month he shocked the MMA world with his sudden retirement.



In  October 2018, the strutting, flamboyant and foul-mouthed cage fighter was beaten in four rounds by ferocious Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov, sparking a mass brawl.

The extraordinary scenes that followed his defeat in Las Vegas made headlines around the world – as did McGregor attacking a bus that Khabib was in, in the build up to their scrap.

He was arrested for the violence, pleaded guilty, but managed to escape jail after agreeing to attend anger management courses.

McGregor came back to beat Donald Cerrrone in January 2020.

But it proved to be the final chapter in the incredible journey that has seen him rise to become one of sport's most controversial stars.

McGregor's journey in UFC has been a remarkable one.



Not bad for a former plumber's apprentice.

McGregor, who won the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) crown at two different weights within three years, puts his incredible success down to a self-help book sister Erin told him about.

Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 best-seller The Secret claims that positive thinking can create life-changing results, such as happiness, health and wealth.

McGregor has said his first reaction on watching the DVD version was: “This is bulls*** — but then something clicked for me.”

He and girlfriend Dee Devlin, who manages his finances, started focusing on small things they wanted, such as a parking space closest to the doors of a local shopping centre.

He said: “We would be driving to the shop and  visualising the exact car park space.

"And then we’d be able to get it every time.”






They then began visualising wealth, fame and championships.

Others believe McGregor was a born fighter.

Despite football being his first love as a lad, he found his calling aged 12 and has not looked back.

He said: “When you grow up where I’m from, you get into fights.

“Being able to defend myself was always something that occupied a lot of my mind.

"It occupied all of my mind, to be honest.”



McGregor began taking classes at Straight Blast Gym under John Kavanagh, who is still his coach.

John said: “You could tell that he hit hard. And that’s difficult to teach.

“What made him different was he was obsessive.”

And trainer Phil Sutcliffe, a two-time Olympic boxer,  remembered: “He was a tough young fella, not a bad mover, and packed a wallop. Even as a kid he packed a bit of a dig.”

However, despite dad Tony once saying that his son’s “fists were clenched coming out of the womb, so he was ready to fight”, his family had their doubts about it long-term.


Tony worked the graveyard shift as a taxi driver while mum Margaret was a sales rep for a make-up company.

McGregor has said: “My Ma and Da used to give me grief about the fighting game as a career.

“I had some tough times with my Da. He’d say, ‘Get your a**e into a f***ing job. What are you doing? You are doing nothing with your life’.

“They’d ask me what I was going to do when I lose a fight. I told them by the time I’m 25 I’m going to be a self-made millionaire.

“My father laughed at me. I was a year late, but I did it.”

The young McGregor — then described as quiet and unassuming, the opposite to how he is now — had to take his dad’s advice at first.

He left school at 17 and worked as a plumber’s apprentice for 18 months.

Looking back he once said: “I hated every minute of it. You were talking 14 or 15-hour days.

"I was getting ordered around, getting people their lunch, all this crap. I just thought, ‘This life isn’t for me, I’m going to pack it in. I’m going to chase my dreams'.”

He ignited a love affair with mixed martial arts when he began sparring with friend Tom Egan, the first Irishman to fight in the UFC.

He also met his other long-term love, Dee, in a Dublin nightclub around the same time.

The couple had baby Conor Jr in May 2017 and added to their brood with daughter Croia in January.

He has said of Dee, 32: “I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for her. I’m doing all of this for her.”

Under the guidance of coach John, he began fighting locally before finally being signed up to the lucrative UFC five years later in 2013.

Yet when he  made his  winning debut against American Marcus Brimage, he was still on benefits.

He said of the dole office after his victory: “Now I suppose I’m just going to have to tell them to f*** off!”.

McGregor bought a new boat in 2017 and named it The 188 – after the amount of euros he used to get on Irish benefits.

View this post on Instagram

Living comfortable on the 188.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

Living comfortable on the 188.

A post shared byConor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

 

McGregor — nicknamed “The Notorious” — is said to be worth £70million.

He earned around that sum when he swapped codes to box American legend Floyd Mayweather last year.

Michigan-born Mayweather took his unbeaten tally to 50 fights by winning by technical knockout in the 10th round.

While he had to play by the rules against  Mayweather, he is not one for doing so out of the ring.

He strutted into Aintree ahead of the 2017 Grand National baring his heavily tattooed chest from an unbuttoned shirt.

During the promotional tour for the Mayweather fight, McGregor came on stage in just floral trousers, slip-on loafers and a robe he repeatedly claimed was polar bear fur.

In another appearance he wore a suit where the pinstripes were, on closer inspection, “f*** you” repeated.

He has since released his own fashion range with the tailor who made the suit, David August.

He also taunted Mayweather by telling him to “Dance for me, boy!” — a  phrase with racially charged connotations.

He later defended himself by claiming he could not be racist because he is “half-black from the belly button down”.

Mayweather also produced theatrics, showering McGregor with dollar bills and labelling him a “stripper”.

He also used  a homophobic slur  to describe his  opponent.

Against Khabib, he had a totally different opponent but the same result.

McGregor's story is a remarkable one, but where it goes from here is anyone's guess.

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