Conor McGregor reacts to beating Cristiano Ronaldo to highest-earner award

Conor McGregor has admitted beating Cristiano Ronaldo was the icing on the cake of being named last year's highest-earning athlete.

The Irishman broke records to edge out Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the top spot in the list, which is curated by Forbes magazine, less than five years after joking to the Portugese footballer that he would overtake him.

“I’m glad I pipped Ronaldo this year,” McGregor told Forbes . “I know a lot of these athletes on this list, you know they make so much from their sport, so much from their endorsements.

“I’m probably the complete opposite. I’m an outlier. I’m a disrupter.”

Back in 2016, he told Ronaldo during a meeting in the lead-up to his rematch with Nate Diaz that he would beat him to the top of the list within a few years, to which the Juventus star laughed.

"You were number one on the Forbes list," McGregor noted, after a discussion about owning a private jet. "I was like number 35 or something. Thirty eight I think I was

"I'll get up there, maybe next year I'll get you."

Ronaldo quickly jabbed back, jokingly saying "I don't think so," to the cocky fighter, who was just months away from becoming a two-weight world champion.

But last month it emerged that for the year between May 2020 and May 2021 that McGregor had in fact topped the prestigious list, which also includes NBA stars like LeBron James and NFL legend Tom Brady.

McGregor made a whopping £128million between May 1 of 2020 and the same date in 2021, beating out Messi and Ronaldo by £35m and £43m respectively.

He did it mostly by selling his whiskey brand Proper 12 for £106m to Proximo Spirits, as well as picking up £15.5m from his sporting endeavours, which were limited by the pandemic to just one fight with Dustin Poirier.

It's only the third time that an athlete has made more than £49.5m away from their sport while actively competing, with tennis star Roger Federer and golfing icon Tiger Woods the other two to break that limit.

McGregor added to his resum of product endorsements to put his stamp on a huge earning year. He engaged in campaigns with DraftKings, the video game Dystopia: Contest of Heroes and the lifestyle brand Roots of Fight.

He also participates in the UFC's gear sponsorship with Venum, and is paid handsomely to wear Monster Energy's logo on his shorts.

He lost to Poirier in the one fight he had, but will have a chance at redemption on July 10 in Las Vegas when they have their trilogy at UFC 264 in front of a capacity crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.

The pair have shared wins in their two previous meetings, with McGregor winning the first in 2014 at UFC 179, before Poirier got his win back in Abu Dhabi this year.

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