When Conor McGregor defeated America’s Eddie Alvarez at UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) 205 earlier this month, he added to his impressive tally of belts across weight divisions.
Prior to the lightweight bout with Alvarez, McGregor had laid claim to both the featherweight and welterweight belts. However, McGregor conceded that he would be open to vacating his featherweight belt were he to beat Alvarez, meaning he would only hold onto two belts simultaneously.
The end of 2015 saw McGregor consolidate his featherweight title after disposing of Brazil’s José Aldo in a matter of seconds. This led to McGregor’s eagerness to jump two divisions and 11kg to meet Nate Diaz. Having started 2016 with a loss to Diaz in the welterweight division, McGregor bounced back in August and took revenge on the American in a rematch by majority decision.
Earlier this year McGregor hinted that weight classes were irrelevant to him. Known for his brash statements, the outspoken Irishman said: “It doesn’t matter what weight division or what belt is on the line because really I should create my own belt… I’m going to create my own division”. Some of that confidence eroded away however when McGregor suffered his first loss in six years to Diaz. His ability to predict victory with vivid imagery was stripped when he seemed far more terse and aloof in the Diaz rematch pre-fight build-up. Despite the jitters before the showdown, McGregor clinched the title from his rival in a closely fought encounter. McGregor admitted that stepping up a division had come with barriers.
“The weight allowed him to take those shots well…With the bigger man, you must be more efficient with your striking.” Since demonstrating his versatility at dominating three weight divisions, McGregor is now calling for a stake in the UFC company, basing his deservedness on the fact that he generates a high amount of revenue for the sport.
“There’s people who have shares in the company, celebrities, Conan O’Brien owns the UFC now, so, where’s my share? Where’s my equity?”
Now the Irishman will be looking to cash in with Forbes estimating McGregor’s wealth at 22 million dollars. With three belts obtained at different weight classes in under a year, McGregor will have a significant amount of bargaining power.
McGregor’s current riches pale in comparison. Upon hearing McGregor’s words, actor Mark Wahlberg seemed willing to give McGregor some of his stocks in UFC. Many celebrities have made more money than McGregor in UFC because they have stocks or shares in the combat sport. While negotiating a pay-rise for appearances might bring immediate financial rewards, investing in shares in UFC will ensure he continues to profit from the sport long after his retirement and will have greater earning potential. Some fighters, however, are far less privileged and make much less money than McGregor. A UFC deal with Reebok has made it difficult for fighters to supplement their incomes with sponsorship deals as fighters are only permitted to wear Reebok branded kit.
Depending on experience, fighters can expect to rake in between $2,500 and $40,000 per fight, a measly amount compared to McGregor’s riches, as his total wealth comprises $4 million in endorsement. He might well be remembered as an incredible UFC fighter, but McGregor will be keen to preserve his legacy as an even better entrepreneur.
Image courtesy of Andrius Petrucenia