Before joining the UFC, Conor McGregor competed around Europe in smaller fighting events. He eventually got signed by Cage Warriors, Europe's leading MMA promotion, and became a double-champion.
But before getting the first title under his belt, Conor McGregor did not consider fighting could be his main thing in life. According to coach Kavanagh, in an interview with BT Sport, after Conor McGregor captured the Cage Warriors featherweight belt, he focused on his MMA career.
"He was always very intense in the lead up to a fight, and this has gone back to his almost semi-pro days fighting on little shows in Ireland and the UK. But then he would drift. So, he was kind of one of those guys [that] I thought 'this guy is incredible. But he's not really focused,'" revealed coach Kavanagh. "When he got that first Cage Warriors belt, he saw that maybe [there was] something. So, he started becoming more consistent with his training. And then he went on to get the second belt. Then there was a bit up and down about whether he was going to continue or not because the money was still so low. [But then] Joe Rogan gave him a shout out. And all of a sudden, the UFC did have an opening. So, that was that. But there you go, eight years ago we got obviously very, very serious. We've been very blessed, and we've trained hard, and he's obviously competed very well. And it's all led to this moment."
Conor McGregor would make his UFC debut four months after capturing his second Cage Warriors belt - this time at the lightweight division. The Irishman walked into the octagon for the first time to face Marcus Brimage, winning via TKO in the first round.
When did John Kavanagh notice that Conor McGregor got famous?
Coach John Kavanagh shared a funny story about when he and Conor McGregor returned to Ireland after the fight with Marcus Brimage at UFC Sweden 2.
According to coach Kavanagh, that was the first time that he realized that Conor McGregor was getting some attention. Later on, when 'The Notorious One' was already a feared contender in the UFC, coach Kavanagh understood that his pupil was genuinely famous.
"When we were flying out there [Stockholm], there's a funny story where we had to stop off at the post office on the way out there for him to collect the social welfare and then, you know, he gets that bonus. And then, when we fly back, we're coming back to people stopping us in the airport. And that's the first time we ever got stopped for a picture, and a chat, [a] congratulatory message," remembered coach Kavanagh. "And, you know, I always said, one of the big moments for me was in the lead up to the [Chad] Mendes fight. And I was in a shop, and a woman clearly in her 60s asked me what's Conor working on his takedown defense."
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