In a wide-ranging interview with the Sunday Independent, the founder of SBG Ireland discussed the meagre financial situation that Conor McGregor once found himself in.
The ‘rags-to-riches’ trope has characterised the whirlwind career of Conor McGregor. The then 24-year-old famously collected his social welfare payment en-route to his UFC bow in Sweden in 2013, and became the sport’s wealthiest practitioner in just three years.
Those humble beginnings almost saw his head turned by an offer, which in retrospect and tens of millions of dollars later seems atrocious.
“A couple of months before he joined the UFC, a guy tried to sign him as his manager to a very restrictive deal,” John Kavanagh told Paul Kimmage.
“That would have cost him around 20-25% of his earnings in return for something like €1,000 a month. Conor was rushing to sign it, saying: ‘I’m getting a thousand euros for doin nuthin!’ I begged him not to sign – I literally ripped the deal away from him – and to this day I bring it up every now and again: ‘Do you remember that?’
Because Conor will still get a contract, flick straight to the end, and look at the number without knowing what he’s committing to.”
On that fateful night in Stockholm, McGregor would earn a €60,000 fight bonus for his first round finish of Marcus Brimage, resulting in the memorable refrain of: “Dana, 60G’s baby!”
The five years prior to the Irishman’s breakthrough illustrate just why he now takes great pride and joy in his newfound wealth.
“He was on the dole, earning €100 a fight and training at the height of winter in a cold gym,” Kavanagh recalled.
“His annual earnings for that five-year period was something like €1,500 a year! There was no money. Now it’s a 10-car cavalcade wherever we go, but back then there was just the two of us.”