Conor McGregor has come a long, long, loooooong way in a very short period of time.
McGregor is hands down the most popular fighter in mixed martial arts, and if anyone needed more evidence, they received it Wednesday when it was announced the UFC champion will fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Aug. 26 in a boxing match that ultimately could net The Notorious a nine-figure payday.
It’s crazy to think, but McGregor was merely a blip on the UFC radar just a few years ago, trying to make it as an up-and-coming fighter from Dublin. Now, he’s on top of the combat sports world.
And this tweet from ESPN’s Darren Rovell speaks volumes about McGregor’s rapid ascent:
Yahoo! Sports’ Dave Doyle wrote in April 2013 about how McGregor picked up a welfare check for €180 (roughly $235) ahead of his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage. McGregor, who defeated Brimage with a Knockout of the Night performance that earned him a $60,000 bonus, had needed some extra cash before flying to Sweden for the fight.
“Just last week I was collecting the social welfare,” McGregor said back then during a postfight press conference, per Yahoo! Sports. “I was in there saying to them, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m signed to the UFC. I don’t know. Blah, blah, blah.’ Now I suppose I’m just going to have to tell them (expletive) off.”
That was the first real taste many casual fight fans got of McGregor, although he had been fighting in MMA since 2008. Now, many fans can’t get enough of the outspoken champ, evidenced by the huge pay-per-view numbers his fights have drawn and the inevitable hoopla surrounding his (perhaps temporary) jump to professional boxing to face Mayweather.
Thumbnail photo via Per Haljestam/USA TODAY Sports Images