Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
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Irish, 28, MMA
UFC’s breakout champion in unfamiliar territory
Representatives: Paradigm Sport Management
Key partners: Beats by Dre, BSN, Monster, Reebok
2016 ranking: 11
In Conor McGregor’s career to date, the only thing that has moved as fast as his fists has been his mouth. Yet the self-proclaimed ‘King of Ireland’ is hardly all talk – he is a two-weight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) titlist and a regular source of box-office gold for Dana White and the organisation’s latest owner, WME | IMG.
But now McGregor’s is an ego too big for the UFC universe to contain.
On 26th August, he will take on unbeaten boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It promises to be one of the biggest, richest media events of this or any year, but its credibility as a sporting contest is harder to ascertain.
“It's not the money that's motivating him, it's the challenge. It's the guy that makes him get chills and say, 'He's got this set of skills, I've got my set of skills. How can we beat that, Coach? Let's put a game plan together and climb another mountain.' Conor McGregor is brilliant, just ask him.” - John Kavanagh, McGregor’s long-time coach.
Luring Mayweather out of retirement has meant fighting on his terms. One of the most skilled and best-prepared boxers of all time faces a professional debutant with a reasonable punch. McGregor faces a very real prospect of embarrassment. With MMA having come so far for recognition, and boxing reeling off a string of legitimate super-fights, this could be a counter-productive spectacle.
Still, it will make money – likely well into the nine-figure region – and provide a global showcase for McGregor’s magnetic presence and salesmanship. If he emerges with reputation intact, he will return to his regular career more notorious than ever. EC