ByJustin Golightly, writer at
Design wizard. MMA mathematician. Formerly of Middle Easy, Justin Golightly has been featured on Bleacher Report, Uproxx and TMZ.
Justin Golightly

Life is a series of events in which, most of the time, we have no idea the infinite implications of our actions.

Eight years ago, only Irish locals were starting to find out who Conor McGregor was. He was a baby-faced kid trying to make a name for himself fighting MMA. In a few short years, McGregor's journey to the UFC would become incredible, a journey that will reach it's highest peak at . However, it was almost stopped dead in its tracks before it was even started according to coach John Kavanagh.

"I used to run these little shows in Good Counsel (the GAA club) down the road and I'd give the guys tickets to sell and give them a commission or whatever. So [McGregor] had a bunch of tickets and all his mates were there, and he was 'the name', the rising star," Kavanagh said to Paul Kimmage of the "But he was fighting this skinny little Lithuanian fella who just ran through him. I keep saying it—fighters don't mind getting hurt, but they hate being embarrassed, and that was an embarrassment for him."

It was just McGregor's third fight. That opponent was Artemij Sitenkov back in 2008, who submitted McGregor by a kneebar in the first round. McGregor ran off like Forrest Griffin after the Anderson Silva fight. Kavanagh goes on to say that McGregor also took all of the money from the tickets and went ghost. Luckily, McGregor's mother Margaret saved everything with an historic phone call.

PK: So he runs out the door.

JK: Yeah. I didn't see him and I didn't see the money - I think he had already spent it.

PK: And his mother calls you a few days later and asks you to speak to him.

JK: Yeah.

PK: What if she hadn't called?

JK: I would never have seen him again.

In an interview with Eir Sport back in 2014, McGregor sat down and opened up about this very moment at 19 years old when he was ready to give everything up if it wasn't for his mother and Kavanagh.

"My mother—I love my mother dearly, I love her to bits—she reached out to John. It was a perfect storm, it was all a perfect storm to get me back. Seeing the the way me maw reached out and got John up, seeing these people that are putting their time into me and their faith in to me that made me think, you know what, I'm gonna' do them proud," McGregor said. "I'm securing my families future here. I want my mom and dad to retire and live comfortable now. That's what I'm doing it for—my family's security—so they don't have to do nothing or answer to nobody."

After Kavanagh talked to McGregor's mother, who shares her first name with his own mother much like in "Batman vs Superman", he realized that maybe he has a 'bigger role here than punching and kicking'. Kavanagh reflects back on the emotional time.

"[McGregor] started crying and I'll cry watching Free Willy, that's just my nature. But I felt he was going to give everything to me," Kavanagh said. "Maybe we hadn't been the best of friends up to this and we certainly weren't the best of friends when he ran off with the money, but I felt he was going to give everything to me. It was going to be a clean start."

It would be a rocky couple of years until 2011, when McGregor would put on what would end up being a 15 fight win streak, the first nine of which were all finishes leading up to his domination of Marcus Brimage in his UFC debut.

Now, McGregor attempts two titles against Eddie Alvarez at the historic card. There will be no doubt, McGregor's mother will be there, tears in her eyes, regardless of the result.

Watch the interview with McGregor speaking about the time below.


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