Nov. 12, 1993, the first UFC event was hosted and the UFC was born. 23 years later, Conor McGregor defeated lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, becoming the first UFC fighter to hold two different division titles simultaneously.
In doing so he has taken the UFC to new heights, and now he is demanding a bigger portion of the UFC’s pie, and deservedly so. In his last four fights, McGregor has drawn an estimated six million pay-per-view buys for the events he has headlined, according to Dave Meltzer of mmafighting.com.
“If you want to come at me, if you want me to stick around and help service that debt and continue to push the company, bring me on board.” McGregor said during his post-fight press conference. “I need to be set for life for this. If you want me to be truly on board, then I need to be all-in on this proper, as an owner, and have an equity stake in the company. That’s what I’m looking for.”
McGregor is the only person in UFC history to earn 1.5 million pay-per-view buys twice. After UFC 205, he will have surpassed that number three times in a row.
Since the $4 billion sale of the UFC to the talent agency WWE-IMG, McGregor is frustrated he hasn’t been spoken to as a business man.
“Who owns the company now? There’s people who have shares in the company, celebrities — Conan O’Brien owns the UFC nowadays. So where’s my share? Where’s my equity,” McGregor pleaded after the fight.
Mark Wahlberg, who is represented by WWE-IMG, is one of those celebrities who bought a small stake of the company. Even he realizes that McGregor has earned every penny.
“Cut the check,” Wahlberg said when asked by TMZ. “As a matter of fact, I’ll give him a piece of mine, because you know what, he’s the face of the UFC right now. But also, in business, you gotta cut the check.”
McGregor had another big announcement after the biggest night of his fighting career; he is going to be a father with his girlfriend Dee Devlin.
In the wake of his baby announcement, paired with his plea for part ownership of the company, McGregor is in no hurry to return to the ring even though he has a plethora of options to choose from. The amount of leverage he has against the UFC is unprecedented.
In an attempt to reign in some of this leverage, the UFC did announce at UFC Fight Night 101 that McGregor would be relinquishing his featherweight title. It was a move the UFC had to make to save the doomed UFC 206 card, which recently lost the light heavyweight championship fight between belt holder Daniel Cormier and top contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
This is a perfect example of why the UFC cannot delay the return of the Irishman due to a financial disagreement. Not only does he put up the big numbers, but he shows up everytime. Even when Jose Aldo and Rafael Dos Anjos pulled out of fights late, he still went into the octagon and put on a show.
“He’s good. He should take time off. He’s been fighting nonstop. Nothing wrong with him taking time off. It’s good for him and her and it’s good for the baby,” UFC President Dana White said during his post-fight press conference.
Whether McGregor fights one of the lightweight contenders on the rise, a rematch versus Nate Diaz or goes for an entirely new challenge, the world will be watching. The scary part for the UFC is he knows it.
“I feel like I’ve outworn the previous contract. Now it’s time for the real slice. I know I’m the highest paid already,” McGregor said. “But when I’m looking at what they’re taking in, and that list Lorenzo and that team compiled to show the new owners, that’s like the gospel right there — proof of what I bring.”