Pe op le
I overcame a
lot of adversity
and hard work
to make it
to that octagon
6869 IRISH TATLER MAN
C R U MAPPLLIPUFNRMRTEOBONMETTRIAHCI NNEE
You are almost
insane to your
craft and not a
lot of people
‘‘Even at a time when I was “But even if I could be
busy fighting and Conor mentioned in the same sentence,
wasn’t as busy, he was that Conor McGregor got the
always motivating me. inspiration to do something
He was always giving me a confidence boost, and he was Above right: like this to achieve what he
always telling me that I could do whatever I wanted to do,” achieved, I’m blessed to hear that.
Tom Egan, Ireland’s first Ultimate Fighting Championship McGregor interacts with But I think Conor would have gone
fighter, says. the crowd during the UFC in a good direction no matter
189 weigh-in at the MGM what.”
Fighting talk, certainly. But the history books don’t lie: Grand Garden Arena on
Conor McGregor has done whatever he wanted and stood up July 10, 2015 in Las Vegas, Egan has said he spotted
to everything that has come his way since. Fighting in a precise Nevada. He went on to something about McGregor as
upright stance and punching his way through the UFC’s defeat Chad Mendes soon as he walked into the Coláiste
champions and challengers in two rounds or less, the Cois Life classroom. His family had
27-year-old – the current UFC featherweight champion of the Facing page: just moved to Lucan in west Dublin,
world, no less, following his 13-second win over Jose Aldo in having relocated from Crumlin, and
December – has become the face of a sport which has provided McGregor lands the McGregor, one telling of the story has it, was running scared.
a quarterly Italia ’90 for a section of young Irish men for the winning punch on Jose “I turned around and I saw him sitting there. He seemed
last three years. Aldo of Brazil during very intense, he had a very intense look about him. I knew
the UFC 194 event on why he was being like that, though. In Ireland, and I’m sure
Even the defeat in early March to Nate Diaz will only add December 12, 2015 in it’s the same around the world, when you move schools it can
another chapter to the story for most of those young men. Las Vegas, Nevada; be a pretty hostile environment,” Egan says.
The invincibility of McGregor is not just about is unbeaten An overhead view of the “We talked about martial arts and he was immediately
streak but about his refusal to let anyone else define him. Octagon as McGregor interested in everything – he wanted to know it all. He had an
reacts to his victory interest in combat already, I think he had been boxing, and I
“I’m pretty sure Conor would have done whatever he was was already involved with the martial arts scene in Ireland to
going to do in a very big way no matter what because he’s got a certain extent.
such a big personality. Not a lot of people would be able to “I was training in sport karate, a variation of kickboxing.
contain that big personality he has,” Egan told McGregor’s Maybe I was his first connection to that world. He was
biographer, Peter Carroll. obviously interested and then he could see that I was already
pursuing the martial arts.”
“I know that before he met me he was constantly thinking
about how to react in certain situations that occur on the
street, so I can see why he was drawn to martial arts. I might
have been the initial bridge for him that allowed him to
explore his interest more.”
McGregor is constantly thinking about how to react in
certain situations still, but he’s probably less worried about
walking down the street. He’s now the president of UFC Dana
White’s cash cow and he knows it. He’s taking $5 for every
pay per view purchased, and the audience for his fights is
now in the region of one million – and growing.
“I was a monkey in the zoo, locked in a cage, and they feed
me a banana and tell me to dance. I overcame a lot of adversity
7071 IRISH TATLER MAN
McGregor v. ALDO
DECEMBER 12, 2015
I was a monkey in the zoo, locked in a cage, and they feed me a banana and tell me to dance
and hard work to make it to that Octagon,” McGregor said before the
Jose Aldo fight on December 12. That may have been the first sign that
there is a friction between the work the Crumlin native is doing and the
payment the UFC is giving him.
McGregor, though, is playing the long game: he may be the most I’m humble in victory
or defeat. I’ll learn, I’ll
exciting thing to happen in the 23-year history of the UFC, but he knows grow. I took a chance;
came up weight, it
that he has to wait until the time is right to make a move. didn’t work out. I’ll
face it like a man, like
“I feel to be at the pinnacle of any game. Whatever you do, you have a champion and come
back and do it again
got to be a little bit gone to it. You are not all there. You are almost insane
to your craft and not a lot of people understand that,” he has said. He may
as well be talking about his appetite for self-promotion and monetising
his name as his fight preparation.
John Trainor, the chief executive of Onside, a sponsorship consultancy
firm, says that McGregor’s popularity is now just behind that of Rory
McIlroy, the four-time Major champion golfer.
There is only one thing standing in sponsors’ way to McGregor: the
UFC president. Fighters are signed to deals that mean they have to take
part in campaigns for high-profile sponsors such as Reebok, Bud Light
and Monster Energy. McGregor is paid handsomely for his time, certainly,
but there may come a moment when his earning power is restricted by
White, rather than bolstered by him.
“If the sport sees a similar uplift on the back of his win that would
mean up to 300,000 people in this country alone being MMA fans. That
would put it at about the same level as snooker, cycling or tennis. That
would easily give him €5million a year in sponsorship,” Trainor says.
Already, Retail Excellence Ireland (REI), the national retail industry body,
has listed the “McGregor effect” as one of the main factors behind an
upturn in the fortunes of men’s fashion retailers in this country.
A natty dresser who has been known to favour well-cut designer
suits, often accessorised with waistcoats, bow-ties and pocket squares,
his distinctive style can be seen replicated by hordes of Irishmen who,
inspired by the dapper Dubliner, have upped their style game accordingly.
Whether they see fit to follow in McGregor’s most recent sartorial
direction – tight white jeans, loafers and a dazzling shirt that, he claimed,
was a tribute to the recently captured Mexican Kingpin ‘El Chapo’
Guzman – remains to be seen. >
7273 IRISH TATLER MAN
McGregor v. Diaz
MARCH 5, 2016
Already the holder of the UFC featherweight title, McGregor – who much-discussed showcase at the
was recently named ‘Fighter Of The Year’ at the World MMA Awards in GAA headquarters was unlikely to
Las Vegas – has a massive following on social media, which he has used materialise before the end of 2016.
to share his interest in sharp suits, expensive watches, fast cars and
designer shoes. It hasn’t resulted in a rush on Louis Vuitton in Brown McGregor once again reiterated
Thomas, admittedly, but he has become a fashion icon in Ireland in a his desire to showcase his talents in
way few, if any, Irish sportsmen have before. front of 80,000 fans at the city centre
stadium, but the considerable
“Menswear, in particular, is having a great run as the ‘McGregor planning that would be required to
effect’ continues to influence the buying behaviour of millennial males,” pull off an event of such scale would
Lynn Drumgoole, a spokeswoman for REI, says. necessitate a long-term strategy.
A lot more young men want to look like Conor McGregor than they “I do crave my stadium fight in
do Rory McIlroy, and the UFC champ knows it. He has already started to Dublin, but I have to roll with the
protect his image in High Court proceedings against the Sunday World punches here,” said McGregor.
newspaper, which, he says, breached his privacy. “I will get back to Dublin, we will
do the show, but it takes time.
The front page of the paper showed McGregor’s house in the This is a marathon not a sprint,
prestigious K Club in Straffan, Co Kildare, with his four high-end motors so I look forward to one day having
outside. Nothing you wouldn’t have seen on McGregor’s own Instagram, my home country lit up with a
where he has 3.1 million followers – a substantial edge on the Sunday stadium show.”
World’s circulation – but the fighter knows that his worth is as much in The recent shock loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 may have taken some
his image as his fists. of the sheen off the McGregor package, but he remains the sport’s
biggest draw by a distance. Paradoxically, despite his defeat to the
In July 2014 he set up McGregor Sports and Entertainment Limited, American, the Dubliner’s honest and humble nature following the fight
which employs his girlfriend, Dee Devlin, and Alan Geraghty, a partner may have won the Crumlin man even more fans.
in Copsey Murray chartered accountants who specialises in corporate “I’m humble in victory or defeat,” a solemn McGregor said in his
recovery. The company’s objectives are the “promotion, organisation, post-fight interview. “I respect Nate, he came in and took the fight at
acquisition and management of sporting persons” and the developing short notice and took the fight at 170 and done the job. He was efficient.
of “commercial image rights and other sporting promotional activities”. I wasn’t efficient, that’s the way I feel. I hit too much arms.”
Stepping up two divisions to face Diaz at welterweight in Las Vegas
As much a businessman as a sportsman, McGregor know that his after dos Anjos pulled out of their scheduled lightweight title fight due to
earning power – and popularity – is at a peak, particularly in his homeland, a broken foot was perhaps a step too far, but McGregor, who has jumped
where he harbours dreams of fighting in Croke Park. from featherweight (145lbs) to welterweight (170lbs), remained philosophical.
“These things happen,” he said. “I’ll learn, I’ll grow. I took a chance;
Fans of the fighter should not hold their breath any time soon, came up weight, it didn’t work out.”
though, it seems. Indeed, speaking at a press event in Las Vegas on “It is what it is. I’ll face it like a man, like a champion and come back
January 20 to promote what was due to be a lightweight title showdown and do it again.”
with champion Rafael Dos Anjos on 5 March, the Dubliner said that the Like him or loathe him, McGregor – who, it should be remembered,
is still the reigning UFC featherweight champion – knows that everyone
wants a piece of him, even in the halls of power. The Lord Mayor of Dublin
made an embarrassing grasp at his designer coat tails after he defeated
Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. Críona Ní Dhálaigh issued a press release that
McGregor had accepted a civic reception. Not so: McGregor’s camp
stated that he has little interest in rubbing shoulders with the city council.
A red-cheeked climb-down rapidly ensued from the Mayor.
A shrewd operator, McGregor knows he does not need official Ireland,
though he has enjoyed disrupting it. When a petition was sent to the
Oireachtas to put McGregor’s face on the €1 coin, that was something
he got on board with. The motion didn’t pass, but McGregor certainly
enjoyed an Oireachtas Committee debating the merits of his face on the
“Next time petition to stick me on that nice fat purple €500 bill.” ITM
Left to right:
McGregor likes to play
against type and get suited
and booted; worth a punt:
a proposed €1 coin design
7475 IRISH TATLER MAN
Right: This is a marathon
not a sprint, so I
The Grand Theft Auto/ look forward to one
Mexican Kingpin look. day having my home
A savvy businessman, country lit up with
McGregor is branding a stadium show
himself to cash out and
become one of the CONOR McGREGOR
wealthiest athletes in
Facing page top:
The Taxi Driver look.
McGregor in an early
contest with Aron Jahnsen
on September 8, 2011 in