Some fake stories depict an alternate reality that is close enough to the truth to be plausible. That’s the case of a tale about UFC fighter Conor McGregor that has gone viral.
McGregor’s journey from humble beginnings in Crumlin (a working class part of the northside of Dublin) to MMA superstardom is the stuff that legends are made of.
However, a version of his personal story claims his longtime girlfriend Dee Devlin “rescued” him from homelessness less than 10 years ago. The story has spread on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as Facebook and other blogs:
“Less than 10 years ago, Conor Mcgregor was homeless. While homeless he met a woman named Dee Devlin. She took him off the streets, moved Conor into her tiny apartment and fed him daily. All she ever asked was that he worked hard and believed in himself. She struggled to buy expensive, healthy food so Conor could train and stay focused… but she stuck by him. ONLY 6 years ago, Conor was a plumber… barely living above poverty, but Dee stuck by him.”
Let’s dissect the claims one by one, starting with the one element of truth.
Yes, he was a plumber
McGregor was indeed working as an apprentice plumber in Ireland, although he hated his job.
In an interview with The Guardian’s Donald McRae in 2015, he said:
“It just wasn’t for me. I was waking at 5am and walking in the dark, freezing cold until I reached the motorway and waited for a guy I didn’t even know to take me to the site, where I worked for 12 hours and then got driven back and walked home. I know there are passionate, skilled plumbers. But I had no love for plumbing.”
He quit that job in 2008
In March 2008 McGregor decided to quit his plumber job to try to pursue his real passion, mixed martial arts. This is what he told VipMagazine about that life changing moment:
Yeah. I was working as a plumber and then I just quit and decided that I was going to go for the mixed martial arts full-time, to chase the dream. I knew I didn’t want to be like the other guys on the building site, who were getting up early in the morning and working late at night. Labour work, you know, hard-hat work; that wasn’t for me.
His professional MMA career began as a cage fighter, when he was only 19. He won his first bout at an event called Cage of Truth 2 in Dublin
No, he wasn’t homeless. No, Devlin didn’t take him off the streets and moved him into her apartment
Not long after he left his job, McGregor spotted Devlin in a nightclub. He’d seen her before but this was the first time he spoke to her properly. For both of them, it was instant attraction:
As you can see, there’s no mention of McGregor being homeless or Devlin moving him into her “tiny apartment” and feeding him daily.
He was still claiming benefits just before his first UFC contract
After losing two of his first three professional fights, McGregor went on a nine-fight winning streak. But his big breakthrough came in April 2013, when at the UFC debut fight in Sweden he won with a total knockout — bagging a $60,000 bonus for “Knockout of the Night” — in just over a minute.
At the post-fight news conference, McGregor revealed he was on a social welfare of €180 ($235 at the time) until the week before as he needed some money to get by before the UFC debut:
“Just last week I was collecting the social welfare. I was in there saying to them, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m signed to the UFC. I don’t know. Blah, blah, blah.’ Now I suppose I’m just going to have to tell them [expletive] off.”