On Friday, it appeared that Philip Mulpeter would bid farewell to SBG Portarlington for the last time.
The gym, located in County Laois, Ireland, simpy wasn’t able to financially withstand the losses that would come with another COVID-19 imposed lockdown.
“Tonight, we close our doors in the gym for the last time. Unfortunately, we are forced to shut our gym down. To say I'm heartbroken is an understatement. The covid pandemic has been tough on us all and we can no longer keep the gym going. Due to mounting rent bills during lockdowns we just can't sustain,” read a post on the gym’s Instagram page.
“…Hopefully, when the vaccine is rolled out and our lives go back to some form of normality, we can get a new premises and rebuild SBG Port once again. Until then thank you again to each and every one of you.”
However, before Mulpeter could shutter the facility, Conor McGregor reached out to lend a hand to his friend and former training partner. The former UFC two-division champion told Mulpeter that he would send enough money so the gym wouldn’t be forced to close its doors. While Mulpeter wouldn’t reveal the exact amount of aid McGregor provided, he did inform ESPN that “we don’t have to worry for the next year or two.”
"I was like nearly crying there," Mulpeter told ESPN. "I didn't know what to say to him, to be honest. I'm forever grateful to him. He basically saved our little community. Words can't express what he's done for us. I know that he gets bad press. People don't report on it, but he does this stuff all the time. Conor is not looking for gratitude, he's not looking for the media to spread this around.”
Mulpeter and McGregor became friends while training together at SBG Ireland in 2008, and SBR Portarlington is an affiliate of the more famous gym. McGregor has also vowed to sustain Gaelic Atlantic Martial Arts, an amateur MMA and jiu-jitsu promotion which Mulpeter runs.
"Conor plans on entering his son into our promotion, Gaelic Atlantic Martial Arts," said Mulpeter, a 16-bout MMA veteran with appearances in Bellator and Cage Warriors on his resume. "He knows what we're doing for the community. He's just feeling bad for us and he wants to keep MMA alive. During this hard time, MMA is going to have to rebuild in Ireland after COVID. It's great to have somebody like Conor that's pushing and going to help us get back to where we were.”
McGregor is currently training in Portugal for his rematch with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Jan. 23.
« Previous UFC Implements Stricter COVID-19 Protocol Ahead of Year-End Event in Las Vegas Next By The Numbers: Stephen Thompson vs. Geoff Neal »