Conor McGregor is the biggest pay-per-view star the UFC has ever seen. The Irishman has amassed a fanbase bigger than the population of a few countries.
'Notorious' has a social media following and a reach so massive that it enables him to sell not just his fights but anything he pleases. From living off social welfare allowances to picking up nine-figure salaries, Conor McGregor has completely changed his fortune with business decisions.
His astute businessman-like qualities had Dana White saying after their very first meeting,
"I don't know if this guy (Conor McGregor) can fight, but if he can even throw a punch, he's gonna be a huge star."
While transitioning to MMA was most certainly a life-changing decision for Conor McGregor, the Irishman did not stop there. The former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion's taste for riches got him to make money moves that turned him into a case study on success.
We look at 3 business ventures that have made Conor McGregor very rich:
#3 - MMA
Before becoming the smack-talking and money-minting MMA sensation he is today, Conor McGregor was a plumber's apprentice in Dublin, Ireland. Making about $150 a fight in Cage Warriors, he worked his way into the UFC after turning heads due to his striking IQ.
McGregor eventually made his UFC debut in 2013 against Marcus Brimage, winning the fight via KO. That fight earned him his first big pay-cheque, $16,000 for the fight and $60,000 for Knockout of the Night. The Irishman had called out Dana White after his win:
"Dana.. 60 Gs, baby!"
But that was just the start. Conor McGregor knocked out the reigning UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in 2015 and made around $600,000.
The earnings soon skyrocketed as 'Notorious' continued to build his image through regular mentions on news channels. His salary jumped to nearly $3 million per fight starting from 2016. He earned $18 million for six UFC fights against Nate Diaz (x2), Eddie Alvarez, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Donald Cerrone, and Dustin Poirier.
Conor McGregor became the first UFC fighter to receive million-dollar pay-cheques for events. His last appearance at UFC 257 against Dustin Poirier got him a pay-cheque worth $5 million. These figures indicate McGregor's base pay for the fights and do not include his share of pay-per-view (PPV) revenue.
The Irishman is part of seven of the UFC's top ten PPV events. He is practically the poster boy for the world's biggest MMA organization. As reported by Patrick Wyman of Bleacher Report, Conor McGregor's appearances in 2016 helped the UFC do $100 million worth of business.
#2 - Boxing
In 2017, Conor McGregor made what ended up being probably the highest-paid professional boxing debut ever. He fought Floyd Mayweather for the "Money Fight," dubbed one of the biggest fights ever in sports history, on 26th August 2017.
Conor McGregor lost the bout in the 10th round via TKO, but it's rumored that he made close to $100 million for the fight. While the reported amount was pre-tax, the Irishman definitely banked more than five times his previous highest paycheck.
On being asked whether he cleared the rumored $100 million mark, Conor McGregor said,
"It's around that. We're still in the counting game.. You know, you get your show money and then you gather all your other information – the gate, the pay-per-view, the sponsorship revenue, the merchandise sales.. I’m building a nice little team of auditors to make sure all these numbers people are telling me are correct.”
The 'Money Fight' garnered a whopping 4.3 million pay-per-view buys, generating more than $550 million in revenue.
#1 - Irish Whiskey
Conor McGregor announced the launch of his liquor brand in 2017 during the post-fight press conference of the 'Money Fight' against Floyd Mayweather. A year later, the Irishman launched the brand with the name 'Proper No. 12'.
Proper No. 12 Irish Whiskey became Conor McGregor's first business venture outside combat sports. Riding on the sportsman's showmanship, the brand generated around $1 billion in revenue just in the first year of its sales. 'Notorious' announced on his social media:
"Over $1b generated in Whiskey sales in my first year! Like it or not, there is a new King in town! Proper Whiskey, liquid sunshine!"
Conor McGregor marketed his whiskey just the right way, too. 'Proper No. 12' was the sponsor of the Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2 fight in February 2020 at the MGM Arena in Nevada. In 2018, McGregor and the UFC signed a six-fight contract that also included a Proper No. 12 presence as a sponsor for every card the Irishman fights on.
In 2020, Proper No. 12 became the fourth most popular Irish whiskey brand globally in terms of sales.
On the 28th of April, 2021, Proximo Spirits acquired the majority stake of Proper No. 12 in a $600 million deal. The company previously owned 49% stakes of the liquor brand. It is unclear how much Conor McGregor made directly through the deal, but it's going to be quite substantial.
Conor McGregor's current net worth is calculated at $120 million, but it's going to hit a spike soon, given the MMA fighter's ingenuity in striking business deals.