Conor McGregor has had his fair share of drama over the past couple of years. When the Irish pugilist crashed onto the MMA scene, it didn't take long for his celebrity to get launched into the stratosphere. He was dispatching of opponents in a dominant fashion, talking smack, and brashly making bold claims all along the way.
This is why some people are scratching their heads at his "apology" to fans at the UFC 246 weigh-ins — along with his adorable shout-out to his mother.
Hailing from Dublin — and not growing up with much except enthusiasm or passion for the sport — Conor went from an interesting prospect to a bonafide MMA star when he dispatched long-time undefeated (in the UFC) featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who seemed nigh unbeatable in a few seconds of the first round. Conor caught Jose charging in when he landed his trademark cannon of a left straight, knocking out "Scarface" and becoming the 145-pound champion.
Conor didn't defend his title, and instead sought 155-pound glory against Rafael Dos Anjos — a freakishly effective Brazilian bomber, who looked absolutely unstoppable in his bouts. While most champions wouldn't get away with jumping around from division to division, especially without so much as defending their belt, Conor's bombastic attitude, wild lifestyle, and documented "baller" status and genius promotional tactics got him the fight.
There was only one problem; An injury forced Rafael out of the fight, which left Conor looking for another opponent. Enter: Nate Diaz. Durable, tough, and down to throw whenever, Nate fought at both 170 and 155. Due to the short-notice nature of the fight, Conor took the fight at 170, so neither him nor Nate had to cut weight. When the two men met in the middle of the Octagon it was clear that Nate's reflexes weren't up to par with the Irishman's.
But it didn't take long for fatigue to set in for the 145-pound champion. Nate clipped Conor with a one-two, sending him to the canvas. He sunk in a rear-naked choke and that was it. Months later, Conor got his revenge against Nate in a rematch, earning a unanimous decision victory. He followed that win up with a brilliant performance against Eddie Alvarez, who beat Dos Anjos for the 155-pound title. Just like that Conor was a "Champ Champ" holding belts at both feather and lightweight.
He then used the return of his mojo to set up a huge "Money" boxing match against Floyd Mayweather. Conor lost, predictably, then went back into MMA to face off against the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov.
That's where things got very, very personal. Conor took his trash talking to crazy extremes, even getting a gang of friends to launch a dolly at Khabib's bus in the parking area of a UFC event.
The PPV was the most successful one the UFC's ever put on, and it saw Conor getting dominated by the Dagestani wrestler until he finally tapped to a neck crank in the fourth round, keeping Khabib's lossless record intact.
Because Conor was able to spawn so many other successful business ventures off his fight fame, Proper 12 Whiskey, a men's apparel line, and exercise programming, it's a wonder why he got back into MMA again.
Conor McGregor's mom, Margaret McGregor.
At the weigh-ins, a grinning and seemingly nervous Conor McGregor thanked all of the fans for their support and stated that he felt great at 170 pounds — and he was going to stay in the division to take on other contenders after his match with Donald. He's probably trying to get a scrap against Jorge Masvidal if he wins, which would be a ginormous fight. He finished his speech by dedicating his UFC 246 scrap to his mother and that him and his family all love her.
It was a sweet turn that not many people expected from the combatant and one that seems to support both him and Jeff Kavanaugh's narrative that Conor is a "happy" fighter who's getting back into the cage for "love". We'll see how much he loves it when he squares off against Cerrone.
While it might seem like a total change of personality from the Irishman, Conor has been fairly consistent over the years in thanking his family for supporting him early on in the fight game.
MMA fighters, especially ones who are just starting out, don't exactly make a livable wage. The cost of great training in a variety of disciplines, health insurance, meal prepping, all of that, is extremely tough. Conor's always maintained that without the help of his mother, father, close family, and his then-girlfriend, now wife (who he has two children with,) he wouldn't be where he is today.
Who are you rooting for when Conor shows up at UFC 246? Him, or Cerrone?