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Years before he became the first two-division champion in UFC history, Conor Anthony McGregor was a football-loving youth booting a soccer ball around the streets of Dublin, Ireland.

Throwback Thursday: Athletes and sports teams back in the day

This #ThrowbackThursday we look at McGregor’s path from aspiring footballer to the biggest box-office draw in the history of mixed martial arts.


Born in the summer of 1988 in Crumlin, Dublin, McGregor early on flashed the fancy footwork that would later become a staple of his fight craft in the octagon.

Conor McGregor in Manchester United gear

From an early age, McGregor idolized Manchester United’s players and harbored dreams of one day becoming a professional footballer himself. But at age 12 he was introduced to boxing and later, after the family had moved to Lucan, he eschewed a plumping apprenticeship to pursue MMA.


''There’s no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist, we are all human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time.''

— Conor McGregor, on his success

McGregor was a flashy fighter from his very first professional fight with the Irish Cage of Truth promotion. After putting together an impressive eight-win streak which started in 2011, the brash-talking Irishman was signed to the UFC in February of 2013.


On April 6, 2013, McGregor made his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage who began the fight aggressively. McGregor employed a looping left hand uppercut when Brimage came into striking range, and felled his opponent at 1:07 into the first round. The win earned McGregor his first “Knockout of the Night” award.

In 2015, McGregor won the interim UFC Featherweight Championship with a second round TKO of Chad Mendes and later won the unified title by knocking out Jose Aldo in a record-setting 13 seconds. A year later he claimed the welterweight belt too, dispatching Eddie Alvarez 3 minutes into the second round.