9. Ivan Buchinger & Cage Warriors
McGregor was signed to Europe’s leading MMA organisation in 2011, winning all of his four bouts within the company. McGregor fought for the vacant Featherweight title in only his third bout, submitting Dave Hill with a Rear Naked Choke to become the Cage Warriors champion. The one belt was seemingly not enough for the Irishman, so in his very next bout, he beat Ivan Buchinger for the vacant Lightweight title, with a first-round knockout that would fast become his signature.
The cult following of crazed Irish fans that he collected during his time with Cage Warriors and the two belts he also acquired raised the interest of the UFC’s president, Dana White. While White was in Dublin to receive the Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage from Trinity College, he was mobbed by McGregor’s fans, who demanded that he signed him to the UFC.
McGregor’s popularity has always been vastly apparent. The Irish have taken over every event that McGregor has been a part of, shown their support on social media tenaciously and if it wasn’t for them, and a well-timed award, the stars may not have aligned for his UFC contract.