There’s a good reason why Conor McGregor talks about his money as much as he does, and it helps explain why he almost got his face on a Euro coin in his homeland.
Earlier this week, Forbes released its annual list of the world’s highest-paid athletes. There weren’t many surprises at the top – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were the first two athletes with over $80 million each, followed by LeBron James, Roger Federer and Kevin Durant — but it was McGregor who made history by becoming the first MMA fighter to be included in the list. With three fights over the last 12 months and endorsement deals from Rolls Royce, Monster Energy and Reebok, McGregor came in as the 85th highest-paid athlete in the world with $22 million to his name.
That’s quite the turnaround for someone who was once a plumber relying on welfare to get by. McGregor famously defeated Jose Aldo at UFC 194 in 13 seconds to become the featherweight champion, and then made $1,000,000 despite losing to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 — making him the first UFC fighter to take home a seven-figure payday. McGregor will look to surpass that number at UFC 202 later this year, when he gets a second opportunity to take down Diaz.
Making history elsewhere on the list was Serena Williams, who pushed her earnings to $28.9 million — a $4.3 million increase over last year’s earnings. That was enough to make her the highest-paid female athlete in the world, an honor Maria Sharapova held for the last 11 years. Sharapova was recently suspended by the International Tennis Federation for two years after she tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
Following Williams and Sharapova was Ronda Rousey with $14 million (moving up from eighth place on the list). While not enough to crack the top 100, that’s not a bad accomplishment for someone who hasn’t fought in nearly eight months.