From a small suburb of Dublin to becoming the first ever two-weight UFC World Champion en-route to achieving world domination, love him or hate him everyone seems to have an opinion on him 'The Notorious' Conor McGregor. Cruise Life takes a look at the rise of the Mac Life brand.
Is there a hotter property in the whole of sport at the moment than Conor McGregor? In less than 4 years he’s gone from relatively unknown outside of the Emerald Isle to being linked with a half a billion dollar fight with Floyd Mayweather in a sport he doesn’t even compete in!
It marks a remarkable rise to fame for the 28 year old, who lost 2 of his first 6 fights, and in the early days split his time between training and working as a plumber in Lucan, Dublin having grown up in Crumlin.
He has since said that the second defeat that was put on his record in November 2010 was a pivotal moment in his life. He has a decision to make – did he rededicate himself to the sport and really push on to become one of the leading guys not just in Ireland, or Europe, but the World, or just continue as he was and be a decent local fighter? Even ‘Mystic Mac’ (and inside joke) couldn’t foresee what lay in front of him.
He won his next 4 fights on the local scene, and then stepped up and won his next 4 fights on the European scene for Cage Warriors, winning both the Featherweight and Lightweight Titles in the process……then the UFC came calling……In no small part to the pressure put on UFC president Dana White by the Irish fans.
He signed a multi-fight contact and made his debut on April 6th 2013 in Sweden against American Marcus Brimage. Could he now take a step up against an already established UFC competitor who has already won his 3 fights in the organization? He won by TKO in a mere 1 minute 7 seconds! Conor McGregor had arrived!
Over the next 18 months he won his next 4 fights (which included 2 first round victories), before his big chance arrived. He was matched with the current UFC Featherweight Champion Brazilian Jose Aldo.
A promotional World Tout ensued to what was one of the most highly anticipated matches in history, however just 18 days before the event Aldo pulled out citing a rib injury. With a fresh McGregor ready to fight he was matched up instead against American Chad Mendes for the interim Featherweight Title.
‘The Notorious’ one defeated the dangerous wrestler Mendes via TKO with 3 seconds left in the 2nd round of their scheduled 5 round fight to lift the coveted strap.
McGregor proved agile on his feet , and after surviving being taken down in both rounds, during which exchange Mendes opened up a nasty cut right side of McGregor’s head with a short elbow, the Irishman was able to drop the wrestler with a straight left and follow it up with a flurry of punches which promoted referee Herb Dean to wave the contest off and send a huge majority of the over 16’000 fans in attendance into raptures. McGregor was now a World Champion!
Over the next few months naturally all attention was now aimed at a unification bout with a now fit Aldo. It seemed there was genuine hatred between to the two fighters. There have been multiple scuffles during face to face meetings in the run up to this and the original fight, and this has been stoked to no small means by the fact that both fighters are backed by vociferous fans. For years it was always said that the Brazilian fans were the most vocal in the sport, however that was until the Irish fans arrived on the scene.
Anyway the fight finally happened on December 12th 2015. As the bout began, both men rushed to the centre of the cage. McGregor threw the first strike of the fight, a left cross which failed to connect. Aldo's follow-up counter left hook similarly failed to make contact with McGregor. McGregor, attempting to establish distance, utilised a front-leg side-kick, directed at Aldo's lead leg. At 0:09 into the opening round, Aldo stepped into the pocket, feinting a right cross in an attempt to connect with a left hook, but as Aldo attempted this combination, McGregor stepped back and countered with his own left hook. McGregor's power, combined with Aldo's forward momentum, caused the shot to drop Aldo to the canvas. After delivering two additional hammerfists to the grounded Aldo, referee John McCarthy halted the bout. The fight lasted 13 seconds, the fastest finish in any UFC title bout, and cemented Conor McGregor’s legacy!
Right! Now to defend the title right? Oh no, he now set his sights on capturing the belt from the next weight up (as he had done in Cage Warriors in the years previous), and standing in his way was the UFC Lightweight Champion Rafeal dos Anjos. The match was signed however on February 23rd (the fight was planned for March 5th) dos Anjos pulled out of the fight.
Again with McGregor ready to fight another opponent was sort. In stepped Nate Diaz on 13 days notice. With little time for Diaz to prepare and make weight McGregor agreed to fight at a weight higher again, and the fight took place at Welterweight.
McGregor had the better of the first round, and significantly damaged the face of Diaz, however a now tiring McGregor was taken down by the noticeably bigger Diaz, and under pressure from strikes was forced to give up his back in defence, and that was the invitation the black belt in Brazialian Jujitsu needed. He slapped on a rear naked choke and Conor tapped out at 4:12 of the second round.
His 15-fight unbeaten run was snapped but he was magnanimous in defeat. “This is the game. We win some, we lose some. I will never shy away from a challenge. I will never shy away from defeat. This is the fight business. It's another day. I'll come back.".
This set up a rematch between the two at what was scheduled to be the biggest event in the sports history at UFC 200, however in a huge turn of events McGregor announced his retirement from the sport after falling out with UFC management over obligations to fulfill media obligations to promote the fight.
You could see both sides of the argument. McGregor was now the biggest draw in the sport, and his participation more than most was needed to hype the fight and sell the pay-per-view tickets on tv, but on Conor’s side he needed to train – he referenced the amount media he did before the Diaz fight, and that he spent less time training, and more timer talking, and naturally this hindered him , and though he stopped short of blaming this for his loss you could see his point. Was this the end then?
No. In the days that followed he reversed his decision to retire, and stated he would be available to fight at UFC 200, however the match was not re added to the event, and instead booked for UFC 202.
A less-hectic media schedule was laid out prior to the event, which helped both fighters, although this didn’t stop a now famous incident at a press conference when Diaz (himself never far away from controversy) walked away and in turn instigated a bottle throwing incident that ended costing each fighter $75,000 – something that made McGregor state he would never fight in Nevada again.
The fight did happen on August 20th, and this time a more well prepare McGregor gained revenge after achieving a majority decision win after 25 minutes of action.
A third and deciding fight was rumored to be on the table for McGregor, but the Irishman had now set his sights on the title he never got a chance to fight for earlier in the year – that being the Lightweight Title which was now held by American Eddie Alvarez who hadn’t beaten dos Anjos in the time McGregor was having his double header with Diaz.
Following a near 20-year battle the New York Assembly finally lifted the ban on Mixed Martial Arts within the state, and in response the UFC put together the biggest event in the history of the sport, featuring three title matches – the main one being the scrap for the Lightweight Title between McGregor and the Champ Alvarez.
The event took place at the iconic Madison Square Garden and in a very one-sided main event the Notorious One defeated the American via TKO inside of 2 rounds to re-write this record books and become the first ever duel weight simultaneous champion.
It’s crazy to believe that he’s only fought 10 times in the UFC, such has been his presence in and around the Octagon.
The events he’s headlined include the biggest gate receipt money ever taken ($17.7 million at UFC 205), and the most per-per-views ever purchased (over 1.6 million in North America for UFC 202).
But what exactly is it about him?
It’s hard to quantify. It’s everything that surrounds him really. His persona, his aura, his exuberance. He was talking like a champion long before he got the gold around his waist.
He is a quote machine, which is always good for a headline. He burst onto the UFC scene stating (about his Irish heritage) ‘We’re not here to take part – We’re here to take over!’.
He says things few others in the sport of mixed martial arts will, and he takes direct aim at current and future opponents with a razor-sharp tongue. Unsurprisingly he’s been compared to the great Muhammed Ali, but humbly McGregor claims no one (including himself) even comes close to Ali’s greatness.
He is such a big draw. Yes he does talk a big game, but he backs it up with his actions, and in the world of combat sport that will always put backsides on seats and sell tickets.
In his post fight interview at UFC 205 he did mention that he would now be taking a break to await the birth of his first child in May – as well as stating in typical fashion that he now felt he deserved a stake in the company (which has just been purchased for $4 billion).
On November 26, due to his inactivity it was initially announced that McGregor had vacated the Featherweight Championship, therefore promoting Jose Aldo back to the undisputed champion but further reports say that McGregor was actually stripped of the title which was confirmed by his coach at SBG John Kavanagh.
McGregor has spent the majority of his public appearances in 2017 campaigning for a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, in what would be the biggest fight in the history of sport.
With a huge amount of hurdles in the way that fight actually materialising look far off, although it must be noted that McGregor has now been granted a boxing license for the state of California.
And even if he doesn’t compete any time soon he will not be short of offers, with a host of companies and brands in the entertainment and advertising industry falling over themselves to get him on board.
And he is also taking things into his own hands by making moves to capitalise on his growing brand appeal after filing to trademark his name for use across an array of business ventures.
The mixed martial artist and lightweight champion filed two separate applications, one for his name and a second for his nickname ‘The Notorious’, through his company McGregor Sports and Entertainment.
The applications where posted on the US Patent and Trademark Office website and state that the McGregor intends to use the trademarks across clothing, video games, books, aftershave, restaurants, barbershops and health clubs.
The activity follows on from similar moves made by potential future opponent and boxer Floyd Mayweather who is understood to have filed for more than 230 trademarks in the past six and a half years.
The Irishman also boast his own website now which you can find here.
Love him or Loathe him the Mac Life brand is going to be around for a long long time to come, and he apologies……TO ABSOLUTELY NO ONE!