Conor McGregor, the mixed martial arts fighter that got the biggest promotional push in the history of the sport from the UFC marketing machine, was charged with multiple counts of misdemeanor assault and a felony charge of criminal mischief after one of the most bizarre incidents in the history of the sport.
The Dublin native responded to an altercation between his teammate, Artem Lobov and Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was scheduled to fight at UFC 223 for the Light Heavyweight championship that Conor was stripped off just two days previously. McGregor flew to New York, where the event will be held this weekend, with a group of his friends to confront Khabib. Following a media event yesterday to promote the pay-per-view at the Barclays Center, the former UFC champion showed up uninvited and found the bus that the fighters boarded after the press conference. His group threw trash at the bus, but the major damage was done by McGregor himself. He threw a moving dolly at the bus, shattering the window. Glass showered inside the bus, cutting Micheal Chiesa in several places on his face and head. Flyweight contender, Ray Borg sustained a very serious eye injury from the shards of glass. As a result, both fighters had to cancel their scheduled bouts at the event. Lobov was canceled from the event because of his initial involvement in the incident.
There are many rumors about how the situation will be resolved, but it was reported that Chiesa filed charges against McGregor. However, a civil lawsuit might be the least of Conor’s problems at this point. As mentioned, the New York City police filed multiple charges against him and he turned himself in early Friday. His bail was set at $50,000 and his next court date is set for June 14, according to the Washington Post. He will be allowed to leave the country to return to his home in Ireland.
I wrote a few months ago that the UFC might’ve pushed Conor too much and shoehorned him into the record books as a double champion without the consideration of the potential downside. They made McGregor the face of the organization, gave him several opportunities that he might not have earned, and then he took that stardom to boxing to fight Floyd Mayweather for a rumored $100 million. Quite simply, the UFC marketed McGregor to become too big of a star in his own mind and it came back to bite them.
At this point, the fact that Conor hasn’t defended either belt he won or fought in the octagon at all for over a year and a half is a secondary situation. The WME group that bought the Ultimate Fighting Championship for over $4 billion a few years ago saw nearly every major network air the clip of the UFC’s most main stream star being led away in handcuffs. It’s ironic that this entire incident took place in New York, where it took the UFC several years to get sanctioned to hold events. It took Zuffa years to show that mixed martial arts is a showcase of athletes, not a blood sport. The insane antics of Conor McGregor could do major damage to the perception of the sport. The actions of McGregor were criminal, not fight hype.
Some very narrowed-minded journalists attempted to claim this might be a staged stunt. Besides the fact that the notion is completely ridiculous, this incident didn’t happen in front of an audience, and the charges that were filed against McGregor prove the authenticity of the assault that took place after the press conference.
Already, questions have surfaced, what will the future be for Conor McGregor?
Let’s keep in mind, the former champion could be a convicted felon depending on the outcome of the court case. What he did was reckless, dangerous, and shouldn’t be taken lightly by anyone. Does Conor McGregor really believe his own hype? Does he think that because he got signed to a Burger King sponsorship that he can cause injuries to other people without any consequence? Does he believe in the “gangster” person that he uses to sell pay-per-view?
This entire situation makes the sport look terrible and anything but professional. In my opinion, Conor McGregor crossed the line and doesn’t deserve a spot in the UFC. This was a planned assault, and fighters that had nothing to do with the Khabib confrontation were injured. If management keeps McGregor on the roster, what message does that send about the company? Make no mistake about it, the 29-year-old fighter is skilled and dynamic inside the octagon, but there must be a standard of professionalism in mixed martial arts.
Even if Dana White allows Conor to return to the cage, would he actually sign for a fight? He didn’t defend either title that he won prior to this incident and didn’t have plans to fight again. Plus, would fans still want to pay $65 to see Conor McGregor fight again? The draw to Conor was his brash over-the-top persona that created an entertaining presentation, but he hurt innocent people in a planned assault.
Will Conor McGregor get cut from the UFC roster?
I doubt it, but again, what message does that send about the promotion? If nothing else, it speaks volumes to how far the standard was lowered in the past decade. Would legends like Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, or Georges St. Pierre ever do something this outrageous? Keep in mind, Paul Daley was exiled from the UFC for his sucker punch against Josh Koscheck after the bell, and Roy Nelson was fired because he pushed a referee so how exactly will management justify McGregor’s invitation back to the octagon?
Ultimately, Conor will probably be back at some point because there’s still money to be made. That being said, I couldn’t care less to watch him fight again because his antics are an insult to the fighters that helped build the sport into a commodity that could be distributed to the main stream audience. Aside from all the insanity, the actual fight card for UFC 223 is still undecided, as Max Holloway, who replaced an injured Tony Ferguson on less than a week notice, couldn’t make weight. As of this writing, there isn’t an opponent for Khabib in the main event. It will be interesting to see if the hassle and the possible negative effect of Conor McGregor’s antics will ultimately be worth the revenue that he generated as champion in the company
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta
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