Philip Mulpeter posted bad news on Instagram on Friday. The gym he owns, SBG Portarlington in County Laois, Ireland, should close its doors as COVID-19 lockdowns in the country raise financial concerns.
“We’ve had three bans now and I think after each ban it’s difficult to get the same numbers again,” Mulpeter told ESPN. “People lose the routine and just our numbers went down. Every time there was a new lock, we got deeper and deeper into debt. … Our landlord didn’t give us a break on rent or anything. We had to decide that Closing doors for good. “
Then Conor McGregor entered.
The UFC superstar saw the social media post and called Mulpeter, a longtime friend and former training partner at SBG Ireland. McGregor told Mulpeter not to close SBG Portarlington – he would send money to save the gym. On Sunday, Mulpeter posted news on Instagram that SBG Portarlington would remain open indefinitely because of McGregor’s support.
Mulpeter didn’t reveal exactly how much McGregor had donated, but said, “We don’t have to worry about the next year or two.”
“I almost cried there,” Mulpeter said of the call to McGregor. “I didn’t know what to tell 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 he’s bad Press gets. People don’t report about it, but he does this all the time. Conor doesn’t look for gratitude, he doesn’t look for the media to get it out. “
Even more astonishing to Mulpeter, McGregor is currently at training camp in Portugal for his UFC 257 main event against Dustin Poirier on January 23rd. The former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion took time to prepare to expand on the gesture.
“He was just like, ‘You’re doing a hell of a job, you’ve created a great community in the gym,'” Mulpeter said. “And he had seen all the support online from all of the parents and children [who go to the gym]. It’s like Santa Claus is coming for us early. “
Mulpeter, a veteran Bellator, said he and McGregor met around 2008. The two came together as rookie fighters at SBG Ireland in Dublin. Mulpeters Gym is a subsidiary of SBG Ireland. SBG Portarlington also plays host to McGregor’s FAST fitness program.
Mulpeter also heads amateur MMA and the Brazilian jiu-jitsu promotion Gaelic Atlantic Martial Arts (GAMA), which, according to Mulpeter, McGregor has also vowed to stay afloat during these turbulent times. Mulpeter said McGregor told him he wanted Conor Jr., 3, to run for the organization one day.
“Conor plans to include his son on our Gaelic Atlantic Martial Arts promotion,” Mulpeter said. “He knows what we’re doing for the community. He just feels bad for us and he wants to keep MMA alive. MMA needs to be rebuilt after COVID in Ireland at this difficult time. It’s great to have someone like Conor that urges and will help us get back to where we were. “