The ridiculous antics that were once so amusing have finally spiraled completely out of control. Conor McGregor has been busy keeping his name in people’s minds and on social media by doing all manner of things other than getting back in the octagon and defending his belts. But now he has really crossed the line. Jumping into the caged ring at a Bellator event and assaulting their employees was bad enough. Causing injury to a UFC employee and two fighters outside the octagon and instigating a public attack is sheer insanity.
Evidently this ridiculous occurrence was sparked by a spat between Khabib Nurmagomedov — who will face Al Iaquinta tonight for one of McGregor’s stripped belts — and McGregor’s teammate and friend, Artem Lobov. That’s all it took to make McGregor decide to load up a plane with his crew, journey to New York, and then force his way into the Barclay center with a posse of “about twenty” goons and storm through the building where a press conference for UFC 223 was taking place. Eventually the mob made its way to a garage where Nurmagomedov and other UFC fighters, including strawweight champ “Thug” Rose Namajunas, were on board a bus attempting to leave.
There McGregor and his band of twits began hurling at the vehicle whatever could be found nearby, including a metal gate. These efforts resulted in shattered windows on the bus, which caused lacerations to two UFC fighters, Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg. Both Borg and Chiesa have been ruled out of their scheduled bouts for tonight. Artem Lobov’s match against Alex Caceres has also been pulled due to Lobov’s involvement in this whole sorry incident.
Indeed, Lobov is at the heart of this whole ordeal. He and Khabib Nurmagomedov, the card’s headliner and rapidly rising star, had a face-off on Wednesday. Here is where the story really twists and spirals into lore that will be retold for years to come.
“Artem Lobov, who is on the undercard, is a very, very close friend of Conor McGregor,” said Dana White. “He got into an altercation with Khabib Nurmagomedov and his team. When Conor found out, he loaded up the plane full of guys from Ireland, flew over here, and coordinated this attack.”
White posted a video response where he called McGregor’s actions “the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company” and suggested his prized star and huge draw will be reprimanded or punished by the UFC in some way, shape or form. How far are White and the UFC willing to go to deal with this situation? Only time will tell. But the truth remains that Conor McGregor was a dream find for White, and together the pair have earned a mint, the high point being their making off like bandits with the ridiculous “MayMac” fight.
Since then, McGregor has been on self-destruct autopilot. This most recent display of gangsterism and lawlessness no doubt tarnishes his reputation and standing. Hopefully it will serve as a slice of humble pie and help bring the lad back to his senses. More likely though, it’ll load his enemy’s guns with silver bullets that he’ll no doubt be dodging at press conferences for some time to come. McGregor faces charges of assault and criminal mischief and will likely have multiple days in court in the weeks to come.
When questioned about the incident, Khabib Nurmagomedov remained calm, cool and collected. “I am laughing inside,” he said. “You broke a window? Why? Come inside. You know UFC don’t let you come inside. If you real gangster, why don’t you come inside?”
Nurmagomedov is perhaps the scariest man currently fighting in the promotion, and his cool demeanor speaks volumes. “This is big history gangster place. Brooklyn. You want to talk to me? Send me location. We have to talk? I am gonna come, no problem. I grew up like this. I don’t grow up throwing chairs at windows. This is not my bus.”
In February of this year, Nurmagomedov hinted that he wouldn’t consider a match-up against McGregor that would give the Irishman a chance to reclaim his throne. “If he wanna fight with me, he have to stand in the line,” said Nurmagomedov. “He have to beg.” That has most probably changed, as long as the UFC continues to employ the out of favor Irish antagonist who was led out of police headquarters yesterday in handcuffs.
Mixed martial arts was once about respect and honor, but more and more of its limelight representatives are demonstrating behaviour that is the complete opposite of that. (I’m looking at you too, Nate Diaz.) No athlete, especially a highly trained martial artist, should be permitted to waltz around acting as if they are a member of an organized crime syndicate, doing whatever they please to whomever they please. This is a black eye for the UFC and MMA in general.
McGregor did surrender himself to the NYPD and will face several criminal charges for his actions. For all his boasting about how he himself is the UFC, he seemingly taketh away as he giveth. The damage he has caused the promotion is immeasurable, not just to the company’s public image but to what was looking to be one of the best cards of the year.
“The police are going to take care of Conor,” said White. “The police are going to handle Conor, and I know a handful of people here already that are filing lawsuits against Conor McGregor. God knows how many lawsuits he’s going to have by the time this is done.”
White added: “What happened today was criminal, disgusting, despicable, makes me sick, and we as an organization need to make sure that this never happens again.”
All that said, does this whole sordid affair make a McGregor vs Nurmagomedov more or less likely? Is that going to be the match which drives millions of curious fans back to the UFC and put millions more into Conor’s pockets? In the end, is all of this going to prove to be a lucrative publicity stunt? Or is such a match now less likely because of the legal entanglements that are certain to follow?
In the following days I imagine we shall learn more about the consequences of McGregor’s tirade. Who knows? Maybe all this nonsense will earn the Irishman a blacklisting from returning to compete in the United States of America. If so, to state the obvious, he will have only himself to blame. — Kieron Yates