Conor McGregor’s true personality behind the scenes – as told by his opponents

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Conor McGregor is certainly a controversial figure in the world of UFC.

Love him or hate him, the Irishman has dramatically raised the profile of the sport in short space of time.

There are plenty involved in UFC who find McGregor overconfident and someone who rambles on far too much, but there is another side to the 32-year-old that not everyone is aware of.

McGregor's journey began in MMA as he faced fellow Irishman Garry Morris in 2008.

It's fair to say that plenty has changed for 'The Notorious' since then, but his opponent from that day explained that he has remained respectful despite all his success that has followed since their meeting.

“I love what he’s doing. I’d be one of the people defending how he goes on. After our fight I’ve bumped into him a few times. We’d see each other around and he would always have time for me and come over and talk," said Morris.

“A lot of the stuff people get upset about is showmanship, but he is very respectful. I love how he goes on, I love how he does things and afterwards he’s always respectful.

"Even after his last few fights he’s always thanked his opponents even though they might have hated him up until the fight."

Another one of McGregor's earlier opponents in his career found The Notorious to be a confusing character at first, but has since altered his view.

Dave Hill, who lost to the 32-year-old for the Cage Warriors belt in 2012, described how he came to change his mind on McGregor's 'confident' approach.

"I thought it was all an act, all for show. He was kicking off at the weigh-ins. But when he got in my face, because of his intensity, I thought: 'He really believes in himself.' That flustered me.

"He's overwhelming in a fight because he's always in your face, he's so confident. He was talking to me during the fight, saying I look soft, and it made my mind go elsewhere. I was thinking 'should I say something?

"He has a presence that doesn't give you a rest and puts you on the back-foot," expressed Hill.

"I don't think it's an act any more. But when I started fighting him I realised that he believes everything he says – that's the way he is."

Other opponents McGregor has faced have not been as complimentary, however.

Donald Cerrone was defeated by McGregor at UFC 246 and had plenty to say on his antics leading up to their showdown.

"It’s all an act, a big show (from McGregor)," he said.

"We couldn’t hear what he was saying (at the press conference), he was just rambling and we were behind the speaker. I just tune him out, because behind the scenes he is like a scared little kid.

"He hides from us. When they line us all up they take Conor and put him in another room because he can’t be around other fighters because we don’t play that s***.

‘"He is disliked by all. By all. He’s not one of the fellas, he’s not a good dude. But it is what it is, he’s done a good job promoting the sport.

"He’s done a good job at making money, so I can’t hate the guy for that. But just as a person, I ain’t a fan of his."

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  • Away from the cage, McGregor has acted as a positive role model for the sport and appears to be moving away from his past antics that have divided many.

    In April of last year, with Ireland batting the COVID-19 pandemic, the UFC star opened eight houses he paid for to be built for homeless families in Dublin.

    A month later, he personally delivered some of the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that his £1.16m donation had paid for to medics across Irish hospitals.

    It allowed healthcare workers to purchase up to 50,000 items of PPE, which proved vital in their battle against coronavirus.

    In October of this year, shortly after offering Dustin Poirier the chance to fight him for charity, McGregor provided a significant donation to boyhood club Lourdes FC.

    Through doing so, he was able to provide players of all age groups with brand new kits and oversaw the development of the team’s training facilities in Dublin.

    Showing further support to facilities close to home, he also managed to save Straight Blast Gym Portarlington in County Laois after the branch was plunged into financial uncertainty due to the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Owner Philip Mulpeter, a long time friend and former training partner of McGregor’s, was taken aback by his gesture.

    “I was like nearly crying [when McGregor called],” Mulpeter told ESPN. “I didn’t know what to say to him, to be honest. I’m forever grateful to him.

    “He basically saved our little community. Words can’t express what he’s done for us. I know that he gets bad press. People don’t report on it, but he does this stuff all the time.

    “Conor is not looking for gratitude; he’s not looking for the media to spread this around.”

    McGregor's generosity has continued this year, donating £4,500 to help buy new medical equipment for a seriously ill woman.

    He provided the donation to give 43-year-old Catherine O’Leary, who suffers from locked-in syndrome, enough funds to purchase a vital signs monitor to assist with her care.

    The 32-year-old has also launched a limited edition clothing range to raise money for the Children’s Health Foundation Crumlin.

    • Conor Mcgregor
    • UFC

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