He hasn’t had a UFC win since his fight with Eddie Alvarez in 2016 and last boxed against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, which may go some way in explaining why Conor McGregor’s dropped 17 places in the latest Forbes rich list for the highest paid athletes in the world.
McGregor was the first mixed martial artist to earn a top 100 spot in Forbes’ highest paid athletes list in 2016, and has since made the list four years in a row. Now the most famous and highest earning fighter in MMA, he hasn’t matched the success of the Alvarez fight when he became the first UFC fighter to hold championship belts in two divisions at the same time.
The Irishman may have slipped from fourth to 21st, but according to the American business magazine, McGregor still looks set to make around $47m this year. His estimated earnings take into account all of sponsorship deals, the commercial revenue he makes from other investments such as his Irish whiskey distillery, as well as his fights.
McGregor returned to the UFC Octagon for a title fight in October 2018, the first time in nearly two years. He lost by submission to Khabib Nurmagomedov, yet received a base salary of $3m with pay-per-view sales pushing him over the $30m mark.
The former two-weight champion’s sponsorship deal with Reebok nets him $5 million per year, with additional lucrative deals from Beats Electronics, Burger King, Monster Energy, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Budweiser earning him $15million a year.
The whiskey distillery he founded, Proper No. Twelve, has sold more than 200,000 cases since it launched last year and is named after the Dublin district McGregor hails from. McGregor has said that the distillery had already generated “over $1 billion”. Other investments like the August McGregor clothes line and McGregor Sports and Entertainment Ltd add to his yearly earnings.
McGregor Sports and Entertainment Ltd includes McGregor FAST, which is a conditioning programme that combines aerobic exercises like running with short high-intensity workouts such as boxing. “The programme helps anyone take their fitness to the max, no matter what level they are at to begin with,” said British fitness expert Calum Coleman at fitforbeach.co.uk. “But it doesn’t come cheap, and can work out at around $20-$95 a month depending on the plan you choose.” With lucrative side projects like this, it’s easy to see why he’s still making an appearance on the list.
The Forbes list is based on projections from June this year, which means McGregor could still shoot up the list if he gets another fight or sponsorship deal before the end of 2019. But how likely is that?
The former two-weight world champion recently dropped his MMA retirement announcement, but has failed to convince the majority he’ll actually follow through with it. After all, he retired in 2016, only to stroll back into the UFC to fight Nate Diaz later that year and meet Mayweather in the ring for the richest fight in boxing history. His rival Nurmagomedov doesn’t believe he’s finished, and since he appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show claiming that he was going to fight in July, we’re not convinced either.