McGregor admits it was wrong to use anti-gay slur

Conor McGregor sums up his rise to mega stardom and mega money with a quote.

"Standing in the post office waiting for social welfare – 188 euro – I'd lost my plumbing job I had nothing – that's where the f*** I was five years ago."

In that short time he has become one of the most infamous fighters on the planet – the undisputed star of UFC – (Ultimate Fighting Championship), a boxer for one extraordinary money-spinning fight (against Floyd Mayweather) and with an Instagram following of 21 million and reportedly five times that in the bank – give or take.

As famous for shooting off his mouth and winding up opponents as he is for his actual fighting skills, this is an interview that I'm nervous about. It could go very wrong if I ask a question this fiery Dubliner doesn't like.

But as he promotes the documentary Notorious about his life, the man couldn't be nicer. I walk away after the 20 minute sit-down thinking: "He's a force of nature, a bundle of energy and seems like a very decent, honest guy. I like him – a lot."

Image:Floyd Mayweather Jr throws a punch at McGregor in August

He is the first to admit that he often puts his foot in it and says offensive things he regrets in the build-up to a big contest. But he insists it's all him – it's not planned, it's not just for effect, bluster or to sell tickets. What comes out his mouth depends on how he's feeling on the day. And if he offends anyone he seems genuinely sorry and asks for forgiveness from his fans.

He explains that the trash talk is a way of getting the psychological upper hand before a fight.

He says: "When you come face to face with someone who's trying to hurt you, maim you for life and drill your head into the ground at 100 miles per hour, you are going to say things."

He recently used a homophobic slur to describe an opponent and when I ask him about this he is contrite. He says he knows he should never have used that word.

It is the most passionate part of the interview as he tries to explain that he wasn't thinking about the meaning of it as he said it – he was simply trying to comfort a team-mate who'd just lost a big fight – but chose his words badly in the heat of the moment.

McGregor is at pains to point out that he isn't homophobic, not at all. He has gay friends and campaigned for gay marriage in Ireland.

The fighters embrace after a bout that was predicted to generate $600m
Image:The Mayweather-McGregor bout was predicted to generate $600m

Perhaps some words should be deleted from his list of insults now that he is so famous and such a big role model, I suggest. McGregor agrees that this is a good idea but asks his fans to be patient with him and his mistakes. After all, super-stardom and living in the spotlight are still quite new to him.

He talks about building an empire and jokes he's like "a young Rupert Murdoch". Besides the money he makes from his fights he has his own brand of whiskey, a clothing line and the Mac Life website.

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 22:  UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor greets fans as he arrives at Toshiba Plaza on August 22, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. McG
Image:McGregor says trash talk is a way of getting the psychological upper hand before a fight

But it's the fighting that remains his passion and driving force. It's no longer about the money.

As he puts it, he already has "forever money – it just keeps rallying round up there never to come down".

He laughs at the suggestion he might one day go into politics: "What do politicians even do? I don't know what they do.

"I do lots of good things already. I help people.

"What does the Irish President earn? €150,000 a year? I earn that in less than a week. I'm already the President!"

Not at all bad for a former trainee plumber from Crumlin.

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