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 email@example.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta
UFC 249 has a long and adventurous story
UFC 249 was originally planned to take place on April 18th in New York but, due to the ongoing pandemic, governor Cuomo restricted mass gatherings and sports events, confining everyone to their homes, leaving them with little more to watch than reruns of old fights and perhaps Game Changers. UFC president Dana White then announced that the event was still on but the location will change. Later, it was announced that it will take place at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. ESPN and its parent company Disney didn’t like this, though, pressuring White to suspend the event for the time being – which he did. Finally, the event was rescheduled for May 9.
Meanwhile, interesting news started circulating about a potential location for future UFC fight nights that, if it becomes a reality, might put an interesting spin on the world of mixed martial arts.
UFC Fight Island
Even before the issues with the event, White planned to arrange a brand new location where fight nights could be organized: a private island where athletes could train and fight.
“All the infrastructure is being built right now and getting put in place,” he told the press back in April. “As we get closer to that, then I’ll start figuring out booking fights, getting guys ready. Plus, I can ship guys over there earlier, and they can start training over there, on the island. So, once that’s all in place – we’re looking at like a month – I’ll have that all put together, and guys can start training and can go there.”
The UFC is serious about it: it has already registered several trademarks around the “UFC Fight Island” brand, covering several types of goods, services, even jewelry.
When, and Where?
The “where” is still a mystery. Although he spoke repeatedly about the arrangements being made for athletes to be able to train and stay on the island, White has not revealed its location yet. Some theorize that it may be somewhere in international waters so it could serve as a place where international athletes could stay without restrictions, perhaps off the coast of California. But this is just a theory – all will probably be revealed in due time.
The “when” is a bit less vague: White told the press that UFC Fight Island will be operational by June. It will have amenities like an Octagon on the beach, and hotels for the fighters to be lodged at. And most importantly, it will allow international fighters to participate in fights, even with the pandemic-related travel restrictions still in place.
The idea of an island dedicated to fighting may sound familiar – it was the topic of the 2006 martial arts movie “DOA – Dead or Alive” and 2007’s “The Condemned”, among others. Let’s hope this one will have a happier ending.
As for UFC 249 ‘Ferguson vs. Gaethje’, that event will now take place at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
What Justin Gaethje’s past fights tell us about his chances at UFC 249
It’s fair to say that Justin Gaethje has firmly taken up the role of underdog ahead of his clash with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on May 9th. The latest Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje betting offers present Ferguson as the clear favourite, after his opponent was drafted in at the last minute to replace Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is on lockdown in his home country of Russia.
Gaethje is relatively inexperienced in the world of UFC, having fought just six times in the competition in the past. But his calibre from prior ventures in MMA, notably the World Series of Fighting, means that he is a fighter not to be trifled with, and while he won’t represent as formidable a challenge for Ferguson as Khabib would have, there is much to admire about the 31-year-old.
To understand fully Gaethje’s chances ahead of UFC 249, it’s important to analyse his performances in recent fights. Indeed, his past three bouts have resulted in impressive victories, with Gaethje winning Performance of the Night awards in two of those fights — against James Vick and Donald Cerrone respectively.
But his UFC started off in disappointing fashion, with just one win from his first three fights. That victory came against Michael Johnson in the reality show The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale, but from there he failed to gain a strong foothold in the championship. He suffered back-to-back defeats against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, including a knockout at the hands of the former, as he struggled to adapt to the competitive nature of the UFC.
Those defeats obviously shook Gaethje into life, because he has come roaring back in his last three fights, mustering up a trio of impressive performances to bring him to the level he finds himself at today, where UFC chief Dana White is drafting him to replace someone of the calibre of Khabib.
The first of this trio of victories was a win over James Vick in August 2018, where Gaethje produced a fine display which silenced some of the doubters who had perhaps questioned his ability at the highest level. He won Performance of the Night for that one, and was then involved in the Fight of the Night the following March as he defeated Edson Barboza by knockout in Philadelphia. His most recent victory was a TKO triumph over UFC veteran Donald Cerrone in October last year, where Gaethje once again walked away with the Performance of the Night accolade.
All three of his most recent wins have come via first round knockout or technical knockout, proof that Gaethje has the ability to overpower opponents in the opening stages of a fight. Of course, to do this against Ferguson will be a whole different ball game, as he is the most high-profile fighter Gaethje has faced so far, but perhaps the key lies in ensuring he comes out all guns blazing early on.
Gaethje’s Performance of the Night wins indicate that he is capable of producing a show-stopping performance on any given night. He is undoubtedly the underdog going into the fight against Ferguson, but with a few good wins now under his belt, who’s to say he can’t spring a surprise on May 9th and truly announce himself in the UFC.
UFC to provide a welcome sports fix for hungry fans
UFC 249 had promised to be a rare occasion of a sports event going ahead, but the April 18th showpiece ultimately fell victim to the coronavirus outbreak, and was cancelled. However, UFC chief Dana White is not one to be put out, and so came the recent announcement that there would be a series of UFC fight nights in May.
It’s a great chance for fans to see some sporting action, for fighters to keep in shape and perhaps make a name for themselves in these strange circumstances, and for people stuck in lockdown to have some alternative entertainment, something a bit different from Joe Wicks workouts or Zoom quizzes! Here, we look at why these UFC fight nights will be welcomed by so many people.
The sporting world has basically been at a standstill since the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the globe. It feels like an eternity ago that we were watching horse racing’s Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League, but the measures put in place by the government to protect the public meant that most events had to be cancelled.
And so, the news that there will be some live sporting entertainment in the form of several UFC fight nights will give sports fans that much needed fix of live action. Sports nuts all over the world have been forced to make do with virtual championships and races, or with trawling the archives to reminisce on past sporting occasions, but now White and co. have brought some welcome live sporting action back to our screens.
Of course, these are not just any old fighters going head to head. Some of the best in the business will be battling it out, not least Tony Ferguson who takes on Justin Gaethje on May 9th. The Tony Ferguson odds have him as hot favourite for the bout, but Gaethje will be a man on a mission on fight night to prove he has what it takes to cause a stir at the highest level of the sport.
May 9th sees two other interesting clashes, as Henry Cejudo takes on Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight Championship, and Francis Ngannou meets Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The Cejudo vs Cruz fight features two men with similar records, and will therefore be an intriguing clash as both try and prove themselves on the big stage. Meanwhile, Rozenstruik will be trying to defend his 10-fight unbeaten record as he takes on Ngannou, and so there will be plenty on the line in that one.
A welcome distraction
Perhaps one of the key benefits of these fight nights is that they will provide a welcome distraction from the sad news and gloomy headlines we’ve all been reading in recent weeks. Sport has the power to unite people and spark a feel-good factor among the public.
Although the UFC may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a chance for a lot of people to get to know a sport they perhaps wouldn’t have considered watching before, and few sports have to power to grip and entertain like mixed martial arts. Many people are craving a dose of live sporting action, and thanks to the UFC, that sporting fix is not too far away.
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