Conor McGregor: From rags to riches in just four years

When Conor McGregor finally secured his much-anticipated dream fight with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather last week, he completed one of sport’s most stunning rags-to-riches tales of recent years.

The megafight, confirmed for August 26, is set to become the most lucrative single-day event in sports history.

While the exact terms behind the fight have not been revealed, it’s been speculated both men could earn in excess of $US100 million, with UFC President Dana White telling TMZ he expects McGregor to break that magical mark.

Unbeaten boxing legend Mayweather is no stranger to such numbers, having earned a reported $US250 million from his 2015 bout with Manny Pacquiao.

But McGregor stands to earn triple his past-year earnings — recently listed by Forbes at $US34 million — in one hit.

It’s remarkable in itself but even more astounding considering the fact the Irishman was struggling to make ends meet as recently as 2013.

McGregor famously collected his last welfare check for 180 euros ($A265) just a week before his UFC debut in Stockholm, Sweden in April, 2013.

Then aged 24, the Irishman demolished Marcus Brimage in little more than a minute, picked up the $US60,000 knockout of the night bonus and never looked back.

“Just last week I was collecting the social welfare,” McGregor said at the post-fight news conference.

“I was in there saying to them, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m signed to the UFC. I don’t know. Blah, blah, blah.’ Now I suppose I’m just going to have to tell them f*** off.”

McGregor grew up in South Dublin and became an apprentice plumber in his late teens, a job he admits he approached half-heartedly amid a burning desire to be a fighter.

“I certainly didn’t work hard in the plumbing game,” McGregor told Conan O’Brien last year.

“If you’re doing something and you’re not interested in it, not passionate, you should truly follow your passion.

“I had many days one site: it’s cold, it’s damp, it’s dark … for me, it wasn’t the life I wanted to live.

“I remember one lunch break, I was in the car park, rain pissing down and there was some music going .. and I just went with it. I was like, ‘I’m out of here’. I’m gonna drive home and pursue this dream of becoming a world champion mixed martial artist.

“That’s what I did, I got home, my mother and father said, ‘Why aren’t you at work?’

“I said, ‘I’m never going to work as a plumber another day in my life’ and then, of course, all hell broke loose.

“But I assured them I was going to do this and put everything into it. Although they didn’t understand at the time, through hard work and dedication, they saw what I was pursuing and supported me.”

McGregor is now a bondafide sporting superstar, headlining several record-breaking UFC events and flaunting a high life of mansion, private planes and high-end fashion on social media.

His historic feats in the Octagon have been matched by fierce self-promotion and drive out of it and he’s earned praise as a self-made superstar who’s effectively conjured the biggest fight in history out of nothing.

According to Sports Daily, McGregor has made more than $US9 million — the most in UFC history — but his full career earnings are much higher taking into account additional bonuses and pay-per-view cuts.

Forbes estimates he made $US27 million alone for his last two fights — against Nate Diaz and Eddie Alvarez — in the second half of 2017.

According to Tapology, McGregor owns four of the top five UFC PPV events in history: UFC 202 (1.6 million, No.1 ), UFC 196 vs Nate Diaz (1.3 million, No.2), UFC 205 vs Eddie Alvarez (1.3 million, No.3) and UFC 194 vs Jose Aldo (1.2 million, No.5).

The Alvarez fight, in which he made history by becoming the UFC’s first concurrent two-division champion, reportedly brought him a UFC record guaranteed purse of $US3.5 million.

Mayweather, meanwhile, is one of the most lucrative par-per-view attractions in sporting history with an estimated career earnings of more than $US700 million.

The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight crushed boxing financial records, including PPV buys (4.6 million), total gate ($US73 million).

ESPN’s Darren Rovell predicted Mayweather-McGregor fight would give those records a run for their money but fall just short of the 2015 fight’s total $US623.5 million take, with the main difference coming in the betting market.

Business Insider sports editor Cork Gaines reported that Mayweather-McGregor could outstrip the gigantic Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao fight for pay-per-view buys.

A version of this story originally appeared on FOX Sports Australia