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12th Nov 2015

A chance meeting with Conor McGregor in McDonald’s began a disabled man’s path to MMA training


Ben Kiely

A chance encounter with Conor McGregor clearly had a massive impact on Craig Rankin.

The 22-year-old was born with spina bifida, a condition, which he explained in his blog, has caused his right leg to be paralysed ‘from the top down’.

Craig admitted that keeping fit is a real struggle with his condition, especially after a gym he joined revoked his membership for insurance reasons. After he was unable to train at the gym, he became depressed, put on weight and was wheelchair bound for a year.

He became intrigued by Irish UFC superstar Conor McGregor after seeing him on TV, and two day later he met him by chance in McDonald’s.

‘I’m in McDonald’s with my friends and Conor McGregor walks in to get a coffee. I said to my mate, ‘Will I get a pic with him?’ So he walked out of the bathroom and I said ‘Excuse me, Conor?’ He replied  ‘A picture is it brother, yeah no problem, at all’. Got the pic.

‘I was expecting him to leave straight away but he didn’t he stayed and talked to me for 10 minutes maybe more. In those 10 minutes. I’ve never listened to someone with so much self-confidence nor have I been more fascinated by a human being in all my life.’


After conversing with the Notorious for a while, the topic shifted to MMA. When Craig explained that he couldn’t train in the sport because of his condition, McGregor left him to mull things over with a one-word response.

‘He said to me, ‘would you do the training yourself?’. Me being shy, I said ‘Eh I can’t I’d love to, though but I’m disabled’. Conor looked at me and said ‘So?’ Then shook my hand and left.

‘I was curious as to why he didn’t label me like other people and gyms did, maybe he was being kind I thought.’

It wasn’t smooth sailing for Craig after that though. It took him a while to eventually work up the enthusiasm and bite the bullet. But with the help of McGregor’s long-time coach John Kavanagh, he eventually joined the interim champion’s gym and has really turned his life around.

We highly recommend checking out his brilliant blog post in which he goes into more detail on the help Kavanagh gave him.