Even when he isn’t competing, Conor McGregor continues to rack up the accolades. McGregor, the reigning UFC lightweight champion, was awarded a spot on this year’s Time 100, Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, which was released Thursday.
A passage written by actor and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger called McGregor not only “more than a fighter, more than an athlete, more than a champion,” but also “the rare personality who has become bigger than his sport.”
“From the first time I met Conor,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “I knew he wasn't the type of star you could box into one category. Since I've gotten to know him, I can tell you that what you see on the screen — the now familiar face of mixed martial arts — just scratches the surface. The Dublin native is razor-sharp, disciplined and charismatic. His energy is absolutely contagious, to the point where you almost start shouting in an Irish accent after 30 seconds of hearing that world-famous mouth.
“Conor has a fire in his belly that can't be quenched with championship belts. There are no brakes that can stop his engine.”
In his record-breaking 2016 campaign, McGregor, 28, became the first simultaneous two-division UFC champion when he knocked out Eddie Alvarez to seize the lightweight title at UFC 205, the UFC’s inaugural visit to New York and Madison Square Garden. McGregor also headlined three of the five highest-selling UFC pay-per-views of all-time in 2016, with his UFC 202 rematch against Nate Diaz slotting in as the top-selling pay-per-view in UFC history, according to estimates.
By making the Time 100, McGregor joins the likes of ex-UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who made the list in 2016 with a passage penned by Tina Fey.
The occasion highlights an already busy week for the UFC lightweight champion, whose potential boxing match against Floyd Mayweather appears to be inching closer to fruition. On Wednesday, UFC president Dana White stated on The Herd that he expects to finalize a deal with McGregor in “the next couple of days” for the Mayweather contest, and that the Irishman could earn an estimated $75 million purse for the blockbuster cross-sport bout that pits two of the biggest draws in combat sports’ history against one another.
“One of the things that we’ve done and the reason we’ve built this brand the way that we have is, we always bring people the fights they want to see,” White said. “There’s no doubt that people want to see this fight, and it’s all anybody ever asks me about, so I’m going to do my best to see if I can get this thing done. I’m not saying I can, but we’re trying to.”