Conor McGregor made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut on April 6, 2013.
Since then, the Dublin, Ireland, native has become the promotion’s biggest star and one of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
After his first career win in the octagon, “The Notorious” famously announced, “we’re not here to take part – we’re here to take over.” McGregor rapidly turned those words into facts. He dusted opponents and captured two UFC belts with knockout wins over Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez.
Along the way, however, his behavior went from arrogant but entertaining to boorish and unattractive. His actions outside the cage first turned violent and criminal 367 days ago. He stands accused of two other crimes since getting locked up in New York City ahead of UFC 223.
McGregor has been out of control for more than a year. His nonsense is earning him enemies galore and threatening to derail a fighting career that made him one of the world’s most popular figures from 2013-2017.
Fame and fortune came fast, but will it last?
McGregor was on social welfare in Dublin in 2012, working as a plumber’s apprentice while moonlighting as a mixed martial artist. He once said, “[relying on welfare] can drain a man’s mind.”
To his credit, McGregor turned his financial struggles into a positive by becoming obsessed with MMA. Blessed with the gift of gab, his fists, kicks and power matched his verbal skills. That combination destined him for stardom.
After defeating Alvarez, McGregor detoured to boxing for an enormous payday, reportedly making $100 million in a 10th-round knockout loss against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
McGregor has been shrewd as a businessman, creating multiple brands that are serious money-makers. His Proper No. Twelve Whiskey is flourishing. Although he blows through money at a frenetic pace, CelebrityNetWorth.com recently estimated his net worth to be $110 million.
He amassed a fortune in a short period of time. McGregor’s earnings should take care of his children’s kids decades from now, presuming he doesn’t blow it like many athletes in the past.
McGregor’s rivalry with Khabib is out of control
Before UFC 223, soon-to-be UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and his team ran into Artem Lobov in the hotel hallway. Lobov, McGregor’s long-time friend and training partner, was fighting on the card at Barclays Arena.
Nurmagomedov and his team surrounded Lobov as Khabib delivered a message for McGregor. He also slapped Lobov. Cameras recorded the incident. As the video made rounds on social media, it got back to McGregor, who instantly chartered a flight from Dublin to New York City.
When UFC 223 Media Day concluded, the fighters boarded buses to return to the hotel. Before the buses could leave, McGregor and a group of nearly 20 individuals stormed the loading dock area. McGregor threw a trash can and a dolly at the bus carrying Nurmagomedov.
The dolly broke one of the bus windows, sending shards of glass into the face and head of Michael Chiesa. Glass also went into Ray Borg’s eyes and caused multiple cornea abrasions. UFC’s medical team deemed Chiesa and Borg unfit to compete due to their injuries. The UFC also canceled Lobov’s fight for his role in the bus attack.
McGregor’s inconceivable actions caused three fight cancelations. The New York Police Department charged him with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of criminal mischief. The NYPD issued a warrant for his arrest, and McGregor turned himself in later that day.
McGregor’s legal team got the charges dropped, accepting probation and community service instead. Chiesa filled a lawsuit against McGregor that’s still pending.
After Nurmagomedov won the lightweight title in Brooklyn, the UFC booked him to face McGregor at UFC 229 in Las Vegas on Oct. 6.
The Dagestani wrestler submitted McGregor with a neck crank in Round 4. Then Nurmagomedov jumped over the cage and into the crowd to go after Dillon Danis, a member of McGregor’s team who provoked him with trash talk.
According to UFC president Dana White, the Nevada governor ran out of the T-Mobile Center when the melee started. Nurmagomedov remains suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission for his actions after the fight.
During media sessions before UFC 229, McGregor’s words went out of bounds. He mocked Nurmagomedov’s father and religion. Even in combat sports, renowned for mental warfare, it’s extremely rare for family or religion to become a part of the trash-talking equation.
McGregor “retires” in the midst of more scandal
As a ploy in his negotiations with the UFC in 2016, McGregor announced his retirement on Twitter. That lasted about a week.
He was at it again two weeks ago, making a similar proclamation that you can see below.
It’s unclear whether McGregor hoped to use his second (non-)retirement as a tactic to get an immediate rematch with Nurmagomedov or to get UFC stock shares, but once again, it only lasted days.
Asked about McGregor’s retirement at a Moscow university last week, Nurmagomedov said that McGregor “acts like a jealous wife.”
This remark apparently motivated McGregor to commit what might be his most egregious act to date. In a tweet that has since been deleted, McGregor mocked Nurmagomedov’s wife and religion by calling her a “towel” with an attached picture of their wedding ceremony showing Mrs. Nurmagomedov in traditional Muslim dress.
According to a New York Times report in March, Irish authorities took McGregor into custody in January and questioned him about a sexual-assault allegation stemming from a hotel incident in December.
Nurmagomedov referenced the report in a Twitter reply to McGregor. Nurmagomedov called McGregor “a rapist, a hypocrite” and warned that “justice will find you.”
After those tweets, White released a statement to the media: “The ongoing situation has escalated to a level that is unacceptable. As such, we are taking the necessary steps to reach out to both athlete camps and this situation is being addressed by all parties internally.”
What’s next for McGregor the fighter?
Shortly after White’s statement, McGregor took to Twitter again:
Although he didn’t mention Nurmagomedov, McGregor seemed to offer an apology to Muslims while simultaneously renouncing his retirement.
Days after he completed his community service and probation in New York for the bus attack, McGregor allegedly flew into a rage after leaving a Miami nightclub at 5 a.m. A fan was either taking a picture of McGregor or recording him, prompting the fighter to take and destroy the individual’s phone.
Police arrested him and charged him with felony counts of strong-arm robbery and criminal mischief. McGregor must deal with those charges, and the investigation in Ireland, later in 2019.
McGregor’s next UFC fight, just his second since beating Alvarez in 2016, won’t be a rematch against Nurmagomedov. At least that’s what White has said for months. With Nurmagomedov suspended, featherweight champ Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier will fight for the interim lightweight championship on April 13. The winner of that UFC 236 headliner presumably will face Nurmagomedov.
Nevertheless, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas posted odds for a potential McGregor-Nurmagomedov rematch. The betting shop installed the champion as a -400 favorite, leaving McGregor as a +300 underdog.
Multiple fights involving McGregor could be extremely intriguing for UFC fans. McGregor and Nate Diaz need a rubber match to complete their trilogy. Fan favorite Justin Gaethje just claimed back-to-back first-round knockouts. McGregor even complimented Gaethje on his sensational performance against Edson Barboza.
Veteran reporter Jason Floyd of the MMA Report and RadioInfluence.com downplayed McGregor’s recent controversies in terms of their impact on his UFC future.
“McGregor has certainly crossed the line with his recent social media posts related to Khabib, but this shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Floyd said. “In fact, when the UFC books the rematch, all of this will likely be used in the promotion of the fight.”
McGregor has proven he can talk White into doing things he wouldn’t do for others. However, UFC recently signed a pay-per-view deal with ESPN. White’s business incentive to book fights based solely on pay-per-view buys likely has waned. And McGregor’s arrests aren’t helping his cause.
A rematch with Nurmagomedov is always going to be possible. However, if Nurmagomedov remains champion, McGregor needs to win in order to earn that rematch. If he can beat Diaz or Gaethje in the fall (both are big IFs!), and Nurmagomedov retains his belt against Holloway or Poirier, look for McGregor-Nurmagomedov II to happen in late December or in early 2020. That is, if McGregor can clear up his legal issues and avoid new ones.