Before the fortune and fame, the tattoos and tailored suits, Conor McGregor always had an innate belief that he would rise to the top of his profession.

The only man to have held two UFC titles simultaneously possesses the swagger and bravado of someone who continues to shatter records within the organisation, yet there have been setbacks along the way.

Mixed martial arts has propelled the Irishman to superstardom but, as recently as five years ago, he was collecting social welfare cheques while the excesses of youth almost saw him walk away from the sport completely.

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Through it all, though, has been an unshakeable confidence that he was destined for greatness.

The catalyst for his MMA career came through a family move from Crumlin in south-west Dublin to the more suburban Lucan, a little less than 10 miles away but a struggle for the teenage McGregor.

Already an avid follower of combat sports, McGregor struck up a friendship with his new schoolmate Tom Egan, who would go on to become the first Irish fighter to compete in the UFC.

The pair trained together and in an effort to hone their MMA skills, Egan suggested his friend join him at Straight Blast Gym – a move that brought McGregor into contact with John Kavanagh.

John Kavanagh, right, has had a significant impact on Conor McGregor's career (Brian Lawless/PA)John Kavanagh, right, has had a significant impact on Conor McGregor’s career (Brian Lawless/PA)

Kavanagh, the gym’s founder, remains McGregor’s coach to this day and has had a significant influence on the Dubliner, preventing his charge from drifting away from the sport on more than one occasion.

McGregor had given up a plumbing apprenticeship to focus on chasing his dreams and his reputation as a cocky fighter with a dynamite left hand and relentless work ethic brought the UFC’s attention.

Having won 12 of his first 14 professional contests, McGregor’s career has largely been on an upward trajectory since he announced himself to the organisation by stopping Marcus Brimage in Stockholm in April 2013.

He collected a 60,000 US dollars bonus for knockout of the night – quite the pay day for someone who was on the dole the week before – and his following skyrocketed as he carved his way through the featherweight division.

He needed just 13 seconds to become the 145lb champion in December 2015, ending Jose Aldo’s 10-year unbeaten streak that spanned 18 fights with a picture-perfect left cross.

Even his first UFC defeat to Nate Diaz – after jumping up two weight classes – set the scene for a rematch which generated a record 1.65million pay-per-view buys for the company.

With the featherweight belt still in his possession, McGregor relieved Eddie Alvarez of his lightweight crown in November 2016 to make UFC history.

He was stripped of his featherweight title in the same month, a move that still rankles with McGregor, who has not stepped foot in the octagon since defeating Alvarez.

His profile has continued to rise, however, and hit new heights when he challenged Floyd Mayweather in a boxing showdown in August last year that was derided as an exhibition in some quarters.

The fighters would have the last laugh, following up a fractious and frenzied promotion with an event that garnered 4.3million Pay Per View buys, cementing McGregor’s position as a household name despite a 10th-round defeat.

Estimates suggested he earned around 100million US dollars but he was not yet finished with MMA and lived up to his ‘Notorious’ moniker in April with an attack on a bus containing several UFC fighters, including Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Conor McGregor, right, had a lucrative boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather last year (PA)Conor McGregor, right, had a lucrative boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather last year (PA)

A penitent McGregor was sentenced to five days of community service in the United States after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct.

McGregor’s UFC return was in considerable doubt after his actions were described as “the most disgusting thing that has happened in the history of the company” by president Dana White.

But the controversy has merely added an extra edge to UFC 229, where McGregor and his successor as lightweight champion Nurmagomedov will get an opportunity to settle their differences in Las Vegas this weekend.