Mystic Mac puts the slap into make-up war as trademark title fights grow
Caveat: Conor McGregor is finding out that he can’t just punch his way to commercial success but his footwork may yet pay off
Conor McGregor speaks to the media while holding up his Notorious’ brand of whiskey after losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr in their super welterweight bout in Las Vegas, Nevada, last August. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
En route to the summit of the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), Conor McGregor has cracked quite a few skulls. What he is finding much harder to crack, however, is the world of commerce. As the litany of trademark battles in which McGregor is embroiled shows, commercial opponents don’t fall to floor as easily as José Aldo.
We revealed this week McGregor’s latest opponent in the commercial ring is the Estée Lauder-owned MAC cosmetics group, which is objecting to the fighter’s attempt to trademark his self-endowed moniker, Mystic Mac, across Europe. This would give him a springboard to secure the name in the more lucrative US market.
Perhaps the New York-based make-up brand envisages a future release of eye shadow for clairvoyants. Or maybe it just doesn’t want to be associated, even mistakenly, with the brawler from Crumlin. But the spectre of a fight between McGregor and a company that manufactures pink lipstick has an amusing, almost voyeuristic appeal.
McGregor is also fighting trademark battles over various words and phrases associated with him with a Dutch company that owns the McGregor clothing brand, the German Mac Jeans company and the UK-based Notorious fightwear brand.
Most notably, he is also involved in various scuffles in Europe and the US over his delayed, and seemingly mangled, attempt to launch a whiskey brand, Notorious. Last August, McGregor said his whiskey launch is “coming soon”. But if his transatlantic trademark battles are anything to go by, he hasn’t even tied down the name for it yet.
How McGregor fares in these commercial battles will go a long way towards deciding how quickly he reaches his oft-stated goal, to become filthy rich. McGregor is an impressive sportsman, but his business instincts, most notably in the world of media, will have a far greater impact on his long-term wealth.
He is already an extremely rich man. He reputedly earned more than $100 million for last year’s crossover boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather – the original “Money” fighter – when the Irishman suffered his most significant loss in a professional fight. But McGregor had already earned, by most estimates, between $30 million and $40 million in the MMA octagon before the Mayweather fight.
Some rich list estimates put his current wealth at about €140 million, but that appears overly lofty. He also has to pay for his gold-plated entourage and his taxes out of that. The Celebrity Net Worth website gives a fair rationale for its estimate that McGregor is personally worth in the region of $85 million following the Mayweather fight.
That’s still a hell of a lot of cash to manage, and to invest. An $85 million hedge fund would have a large staff – probably 10 to 20 people – to run the show. McGregor’s commercial ecosystem appears to have organically sprung up around him, with little by way of a discernible structure.
His business manager is Alan Geraghty, a partner in Copsey Murray accountants who specialises – rather counter intuitively when you think of McGregor’s stated aims – in insolvency. Along with Dee Devlin, McGregor’s partner and the mother of his son, Geraghty is the director of the fighter’s four main business entities in Dublin.
The most important of these is McGregor Sports and Entertainment (MSE), which is currently trying to tie down all of his intellectual property in trademark offices in Europe and the US, and thus is likely be the company to which all endorsement payments ultimately find their way.
Congregor Investments, which appears to be set up as a holding company, has yet to file accounts. Themaclife operates the fighter’s Mac Life website and news service. McGregor wholly owns MSE, Congregor and Themaclife.
Fourth ventureHis fourth Dublin venture, Maclifefast, is a business partnership with fellow Crumlin MMA fighter Colin Byrne and MMA doctor and McGregor’s conditioning coach Julian Dalby. It appears to sell a fitness programme, Mac Life FAST (fighter aerobic system of training).
McGregor owns 76 per cent of the fitness programme, with the rest split between Byrne and Dalby, an intriguing character and previously a champion cyclist who once showed up to a race stage wearing a Nazi helmet in protest at officials who had sanctioned him the previous day.
The website and fitness programme appear to be modest business ventures and have yet to file accounts, while MSE’s net assets are only €116,000, according to its balance sheet.
This suggests that wherever McGregor has his millions stored, it isn’t in Dublin. Ireland’s establishment wealthy may sneer unkindly behind the back of the Crumlin man, but he has clearly learned a thing or two from them. McGregor is believed to have consulted a tax adviser.
Much of McGregor’s wealth has been earned, and is presumably still held, in the US. And it is there that he will find the most lucrative opportunities to exploit his brand.
His European trademark battle with Carlow brewer Séamus O’Hara over Notorious whiskey is not his only fight over his attempt to crack the alcoholic drinks market.
McGregor is also involved in an ongoing fight in the US over his attempts to register there the drink name, Notorious Irish. He is represented by a Utah firm of lawyers in the standoff with the US branch of Birkedal Hartmann, a Cognac brand with Norwegian origins. It last year sought to register Notorious Wines, Notorious One and Notorious Gold, and has so far stymied McGregor’s push for Notorious Irish.
That brand has also been held up by a separate objection over the existing marque, Notorious Pink. Perhaps that name might give McGregor an idea for a joint venture to settle the row with MAC cosmetics. The fighter also wants to register the whiskey brand, Mystic Irish, in the US.
Maybe the Irishman is the only man who knows where this will all end up in future.