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Conor McGregor: Story of the boy from Crumlin that conquered the world

LockerRoom Team
16 June 2021

Conor McGregor is someone that turned the fight business upside down. The highest-paid athlete in the world at the moment as per Forbes, McGregor has come a long way after starting his combat sports journey to fend off bullies. Here is a look back at his story so far.

Early struggles in the life of Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor was born on July 14, 1988, in Crumlin, Dublin, to Tony and Margaret McGregor. He grew up in Crumlin and went to Irish-language institutions, including the Gaelscoil Scoil Mológa in Harold's Cross for primary school and Gaelcholáiste Coláiste de hde in Tallaght for high school, where he also pursued his interest for football.

He used to play football for Lourdes Celtic Football Club when he was younger. He started boxing at Crumlin Boxing Club when he was 12 years old as a way to protect himself against bullies and acquire confidence.

McGregor relocated to Lucan, Dublin, with his family in 2006 to attend Gaelcholáiste Coláiste Cois Life. After that, he began a plumbing apprenticeship.

He met future UFC fighter Tom Egan while in Lucan, and the two began training in mixed martial arts (MMA) together shortly after.

Amateur MMA Career

McGregor made his mixed martial arts debut in an amateur fight against Kieran Campbell for the Irish Ring of Truth promotion in Dublin on February 17, 2007, when he was 18 years old. In the first round, he won via technical knockout (TKO).

He turned professional after the fight and was signed by the Irish Cage of Truth company. McGregor began training at John Kavanagh's Straight Blast Gym (SBG) in Dublin in 2008.

Turning Professional

McGregor made his professional MMA debut on March 9, 2008, as a lightweight, defeating Gary Morris by TKO in the second round. McGregor made his featherweight debut in a loss by kneebar to submission specialist Artemij Sitenkov after winning his second fight against Mo Taylor.

Following a featherweight victory over Stephen Bailey in his next fight, McGregor considered following a different career path until his mother phoned his coach John Kavanagh and encouraged him to stick with mixed martial arts.

McGregor then won his next fight, also at featherweight, over Connor Dillon before dropping back to lightweight for a bout against Joseph Duffy, in which he was defeated by an arm-triangle choke and suffered his second career loss.

Following that, McGregor went on an eight-fight winning streak in 2011 and 2012, earning both the CWFC Featherweight and Lightweight championships, making him the first European professional mixed martial artist to hold titles in both classes at the same time.

Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, visited Dublin, Ireland in February 2013 to accept a Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage from Trinity College, and was bombarded with pleas to sign McGregor to the UFC. White offered McGregor a contract days later after meeting with him and speaking with UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.

Starting in the UFC

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced in February 2013 that McGregor had signed a multi-fight contract. Following teammate Tom Egan, he became only the second fighter from Ireland to participate for the firm.

McGregor made his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage on April 6, 2013, at UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi. In the first round, he knocked out his opponent. McGregor also received his first "Knockout of the Night" award as a result of his victory.

McGregor was scheduled to fight Andy Ogle at UFC Fight Night 26 on August 17, 2013, but Ogle withdrew due to injury and was replaced by eventual UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway. The fight was decided by a unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, and 30–26) for McGregor.

After the fight with Holloway, an MRI indicated that McGregor had damaged his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and would need surgery, which may keep him out for up to 10 months.

McGregor was set to fight Cole Miller in his comeback bout after recovering from his ACL injury on July 19, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 46. Miller, however, was forced to withdraw from the fight due to a thumb injury and was replaced by Diego Brando. McGregor faced Brando in front of a boisterous audience of 9,500 people at The O2 in Dublin, Ireland.

At 4:05 of the first round, referee Leon Roberts called a halt to the bout. McGregor received his first "Performance of the Night" award as a result of his victory.

Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier I

McGregor met with Lorenzo Fertitta and inked a new multi-fight contract with the UFC before his next fight. On September 27, 2014, McGregor fought Dustin Poirier at UFC 178.

Despite hitting nine important strikes to Poirier's ten, McGregor won the opening round by pressing Poirier onto his back foot and then bursting with a left hook behind Poirier's ear, causing referee Herb Dean to intervene. At 1:46 in the first round, the race was officially over.

This was Poirier's first KO/TKO loss in the UFC, and it won McGregor his second "Performance of the Night" award in a row.

Defeating Jose Aldo to win the title

On January 18, 2015, McGregor fought Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59. In the second round, he TKO'd his opponent. McGregor won his third consecutive "Performance of the Night" award as a result of his victory.

The highly awaited fight with Aldo was announced at the UFC 183 Q&A on January 30, 2015. McGregor announced that he would fight Aldo for the undisputed UFC Featherweight Championship at UFC 189 on July 11, 2015, as part of the UFC's annual International Fight Week. The bout took place in Las Vegas, Nevada at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The UFC boosted its promotional budget for the bout; certain that it would exceed expectations, with company President Dana White claiming that "[the UFC] spent more money advertising Aldo–McGregor than any other fight in UFC history."

The fight with Aldo was announced at UFC 183 on January 30, 2015, and both McGregor and Aldo went on a 12-day global tour, visiting eight locations in five nations, including Aldo's home country of Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) and McGregor's homeland of Dublin. The tour began on March 20 in Rio de Janeiro and ended on March 31 in Dublin.

However, on June 23, it was revealed that Aldo had suffered a rib fracture and had withdrawn from the fight. McGregor was rescheduled to meet Chad Mendes for the Interim Featherweight Championship. The event's official attendance of 16,019 set a new record for Nevada, while the gate of $7,200,000 set a new record for an MMA event in the United States.

After that, McGregor coached against Urijah Faber in the UFC's The Ultimate Fighter. Ryan Hall, a member of Faber's squad, was the competition's winner.

On August 10, it was revealed that the event will take place on December 12th, with McGregor defending his UFC Featherweight Championship against José Aldo. Both McGregor and Aldo met the 145-pound weight limit at the weigh-ins.

McGregor knocked out Aldo with a left hook thirteen seconds into the first round, ending Aldo's seven-year WEC and UFC title reign and eighteen-fight winning streak to win the championship and earn the "Performance of the Night" bonus. This was the fastest knockout in UFC history in a title fight.

Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz

McGregor continued to profess a desire to go up to the lightweight division and aim to become the first UFC dual-weight champion after defeating Aldo. Conor McGregor will meet Rafael dos Anjos for the UFC Lightweight Championship on March 5 at UFC 196, according to the UFC (then known as UFC 197).

On February 23, it was revealed that dos Anjos had pulled out of the bout due to a broken foot. José Aldo, who denied the fight owing to a "lack of time" to prepare for it, and former UFC Champion Frankie Edgar, who turned down the fight due to a groin injury, were among those who were asked to step in on short notice to face McGregor.

Instead, Nate Diaz, the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 5 and a previous UFC Lightweight Championship challenger, stepped in on short notice to meet McGregor. Originally thought to be a lightweight fight, McGregor permitted the fight to be fought at 170-pounds in the welterweight category to avoid Diaz having to trim down to the 155-pound lightweight limit in such a short amount of time.

At 4:12 of the second round, McGregor submitted, prompting referee Herb Dean to step in and terminate the fight. Both fighters got "Fight of the Night" bonuses, with McGregor receiving the largest revealed purse of any fighter in the company's history, at $1,000,000.

A rematch with Diaz was slated for July 9th at UFC 200, but McGregor was withdrawn from the event on April 19th after failing to fulfil media duties linked to the fight. As a result, the fight with McGregor was rescheduled for the following month at UFC 202, this time at welterweight.

The rematch was decided by a majority decision (48–47, 47–47, and 48–47). The match was named "Fight of the Night" for the second time. With 1,650,000 buys, the event shattered the record for the most expensive pay-per-view in UFC history, previously held by UFC 100.

Becoming the two-division UFC Champion

McGregor's next fight was against Eddie Alvarez for the UFC Lightweight Championship on November 12 at UFC 205, as confirmed on September 27. After dropping Alvarez several times in the first round, McGregor landed a multiple-punch combination in the second round to halt his opponent through technical knockout.

This was the first time a participant had held UFC belts in two weight classes, and it also duplicated McGregor's feat from his Cage Warriors days. This victory earned him the title of "Performance of the Night," and it is widely regarded as one of McGregor's best octagon performances.

Due to his lack of action in the division, it was first declared on November 26 that McGregor had relinquished the Featherweight Championship, making José Aldo the undisputed champion. McGregor's coach, on the other hand, acknowledged new rumours that McGregor had been stripped of the title. 

Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather

McGregor stated he would take a break from the UFC after capturing the lightweight title at UFC 205 to prepare for the arrival of his first kid, who is due in 2017. In early 2017, McGregor spent the majority of his public appearances promoting a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.

After months of discussions, the two parties reached an agreement on 14 June 2017 and set the match on August 26. The fight finished in a TKO victory for Mayweather in the tenth round.

Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

After UFC 223 on April 7, McGregor was stripped of his UFC Lightweight Championship due to inactivity and Khabib Nurmagomedov was declared the undisputed champion. 

On 3 August, it was revealed that McGregor would fight for the UFC Lightweight Championship against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the first time at UFC 229 on October 6. This battle was regarded as one of the most important in the sport's history, and it was surrounded by a lot of anticipation leading up to it. In the fourth round, Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor with a neck crank.

McGregor announced his retirement on social media on March 26, 2019. Dana White, on the other hand, saw this revelation as a ruse to obtain control of the organisation, later claiming that his retirement would not last and that he had been in constant touch with him and that he would fight again in the future.

Return to the octagon

McGregor fought Donald Cerrone in a welterweight contest at UFC 246 on January 18, 2020, after a year away from the Octagon. He knocked out his opponent 40 seconds into the first round with a technical knockout. This victory earned him the award for Best Performance of the Night.

Despite thoughts of retirement, McGregor has been scheduled to fight Dustin Poirier, a former UFC Lightweight Championship challenger, in a rematch of their 2014 fight at UFC 257 on January 24, 2021. He was knocked out in the second round by technical knockout, his first knockout loss in his career. Following the knockout, McGregor was given a six–month medical suspension.

Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier fought in much-anticipated trilogy bout on July 10 at UFC 264 and saw Dustin Poirier picking up the win after Conor broke his leg at the end of the first-round. 

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