Forbes released its list of the highest-paid athletes in the world on Wednesday, and UFC star Conor McGregor topped the list with $180 million in earnings over the past 12 months.

McGregor Forbes Silva MMA
Forbes named Conor McGregor the highest-paid athlete of the past 12 months, largely on the strength of the sale of his stake in Proper No. Twelve whiskey. (Image: Proper No. Twelve)

McGregor finished ahead of Lionel Messi ($130 million), Cristiano Ronaldo ($120 million), and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5 million) to top the list.

McGregor scores big with whiskey sale

The Forbes list considers both on-field and off-field earnings, and McGregor excelled in the latter category. McGregor only fought once in the period under consideration, losing to Dustin Poirier by knockout in January 2020. That fight earned the Irishman an estimated $22 million.

McGregor’s bigger money — $158 million – came away from the Octagon. He sold the majority stake in his Proper No. Twelve whiskey brand for $150 million. In a year in which salaries and endorsement deals declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that was enough to push McGregor to the top of the list.

McGregor also made headlines this week by revisiting the idea of purchasing Manchester United. He first explored the idea on April 20, a day after Man United and other clubs faced intense criticism for attempting to create an upstart European Super League.

“Hey guys, I’m thinking about buying Manchester United,” McGregor tweeted. “What do you think?”

A fan asked McGregor for an update this week, and he responded with more details about his interest.

“I am certainly interested in acquiring a sports team at some stage! Both Celtic and Man United are teams I like for sure,” McGregor replied. “I feel I could do big things for a club.”

Silva likely done with MMA

Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that he will likely retire from MMA. Silva (34-11) last fought in October, when Uriah Hall scored a TKO victory in the fourth round. That marked Silva’s fifth loss in six fights. The UFC released Silva after that bout.

“I think MMA for me is done,” Silva said in his interview with Helwani. “Because it’s hard to train MMA. It’s hard to stay training in a good level because you hurt yourself a lot. Now I just try to enjoy. I don’t need to prove nothing for anybody.”

The 46-year-old Silva says he’s still interested in fighting in other combat sports, including boxing. Silva plans to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a boxing match this June in Mexico.

New Jersey overturns PFL result

The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board has overturned the result of a Professional Fighters League (PFL) bout from last Thursday. Renan Ferreira scored a first-round TKO over former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum during PFL 3 in Atlantic City.

However, Werdum had secured a triangle choke seconds earlier. At that time, Ferreira reached out and tapped Werdum’s shoulder twice. Referee Keith Peterson missed the tap, and allowed the fight to continue. Ferreira then escaped and landed punches to get the stoppage.

NJSACB commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr. overturned the result after consulting Peterson, other experts, and watching multiple replays of the fight.

“I want to give credit to [NJSACB counsel] Nick Lembo and the New Jersey Commission,” Ali Abdelaziz, Werdum’s manager, told ESPN. “He took the extra step to get it right for the athletes. This is why he’s one of the best commissioners we’ve ever seen.”