Today, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor is one of MMA’s pound-for-pound best fighters, and the biggest star the sport has ever produced. Really, the Irishman has become such a massive superstar that it’s hard to imagine him as anything else. Of course, he hasn’t always been the spotlight dominating celebrity that he is today.
McGregor grew up in the Dublin suburb of Crumlin, where he was raised by working class parents who, in the early phases of his MMA journey, weren’t so sure he could make a career out of fighting. Eventually, however, his father Tony McGregor realized his son’s potential, saying it that it was at this moment that he first saw Conor as a man.
The McGregor patriarch recounted this transformative moment in an interview with BT Sport. Watch this clip in the video at the top of the post, and see the transcribed version below.
“I didn’t think this was something he could do as a career. It was only until I saw him in Cage Warriors. When his opponent was called out, I just saw this big, block house coming out to music and lights. I looked at this guy and he was more mature in years than Conor, he would’ve been about 25, 26 or 27 even. And I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is my son’s opponent.’ And then they announced Conor and Conor came out to the music and lights, and when he walked down that ramp, I didn’t see a boy then, I saw a man. That always gets me — my boy becoming a man. It just gets me all the time. He got it right. It’s not often that a father would admit that. But, my son was right and his father was wrong. I knew then he had a career.”
When we last saw McGregor in action, he became the UFC lightweight champion with a blistering knockout of Eddie Alvarez. Given that he was still the UFC featherweight champion at the time, this made him the first fighter in promotional history to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously.
At the moment, McGregor is taking a break from competition to father his first child with long-time girlfriend Dee Devlin. When he returns, he’ll probably take on the winner of UFC 209’s Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson interim lightweight title fight, though fights with Nate Diaz, Tyron Woodley, and even Floyd Mayweather are possible.
Who do you want to see Conor McGregor fight next? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/25/2017.