Conor McGregor knew it was time to turn things around before it got too late.
McGregor, the former UFC two-division champion, had his fighting career put on hold in 2019 as he dealt with an array of legal issues, drawing comparisons to legendary heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping 18-year-old beauty pageant Desiree Washington and served three years in prison, which derailed his boxing career.
Fast forward to 2019. In late March, the New York Times reported that McGregor was the subject of a sexual assault investigation in Ireland. Nearly seven months later in October, the newspaper reported that McGregor was being investigated for a second alleged sexual assault in his home country. He has denied the allegations made against him.
McGregor’s year also included pleading guilty to assault after he was caught on camera sucker-punching a man in an Irish pub. One month prior to that incident, McGregor was caught on camera smashing a man’s cell phone after he tried to take a photo of McGregor outside a Miami hotel; McGregor later settled out of court, and charges were dropped.
While McGregor admits that he might’ve been headed down a similar path as Tyson, he’s confident that he has put everything behind him ahead of his octagon return Saturday against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246.
“Now here’s the thing: Yeah, definitely Mike Tyson has had his ups and his downs, and his money management has kind of led him to be in a position he shouldn’t have really been in. But if you look at Mike now, he’s got his money, he’s got his weed thing going, he’s well for himself. But, yeah, I don’t want to go down that path,” McGregor told Severe MMA. “I didn’t want to go down that path, and maybe I was heading down that path a little bit, so just listening to myself, listening to the close people around me that I respect, and just making amends with things.
“I know what I need to do. I knew what I needed to do and what I shouldn’t have been doing. I just listened to myself and followed my orders, and it’s just made me a better individual, just a better man. I’m just in a much better place.”
As McGregor’s fame and fortune have grown – thanks to his 2017 “Money Fight” with Floyd Mayweather and success of his Proper Twelve whiskey – there’s been a notion that he is surrounded by “yes” men who have failed to stop him from a potential career downfall.
But McGregor, who’s reunited with his team, including his old boxing coaches from Crumlin, is heavily dismisses that notion.
“Oh, that’s baloney,” McGregor said. “I hear the way people try to twist the narrative. Like I said, those narratives that people try and spread have been irritating me, and that’s the kind of thing that causes me to react, and I get angry. The disrespect … it’s meaningless. These people do not know what they’re talking about. Like, how dare they say the people in my camp are ‘yes’ men?
“The people in my camp are actually masters, tacticians, master tacticians, across all ranges. Leaders among men are in my camp. It’s all baloney, so I just stopped paying attention to all that, and it’s just like – trust me when I tell you I do not have ‘yes’ men. We’re all on this journey together.”
UFC 246 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass.