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McGregor Arrest Hurts UFC

by Jimmy Vitali

Former UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor was arrested in Brooklyn two weeks ago after throwing a hand truck at a bus. McGregor showed up unannounced to the UFC 223 media day to defend his SBG Ireland teammate Artem Lobov, who had an altercation with fellow lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov.

McGregor was filmed by both bystanders and the fighters being attacked and can be seen chasing the bus before grabbing the hand truck and shattering a window.

Three fights had to be scrapped in the aftermath of McGregor’s actions. Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Chiesa sat out with multiple lacerations, and flyweight Ray Borg was injured by a shard of glass in his eye. Lobov was pulled from the show for his involvement in the incident, and his opponent, Alex Caceres, was left out entirely.

Dana White, UFC president, said the New York Police Department was looking for McGregor and the rest of SBG Ireland after the group fled the Barclays Center. The next morning, McGregor and another teammate turned themselves in and were charged and released on $50,000 bail.

The incident is more than embarrassing for the UFC; it completely ruins an image the company has been trying to maintain since 1993. The barbaric days of UFC competition are over, and the company used rules and research to get away from its earlier, edgier identity. The organization wants to be viewed as a legitimate sports league and quite frankly, it can’t do that if its biggest stars are behaving like this.

McGregor is one of the biggest names in sports at the moment. His boxing match against Floyd Mayweather netted nearly $85 million in bets. McGregor walked away from “The Money Match” with a loss and $100 million purse. His name in combat sports wouldn’t be as big if the UFC wasn’t at peak popularity. He is standing on the shoulders of the UFC giant.

So, McGregor’s future in the UFC seems problematic. Obviously, it’s never a good thing to assault your coworkers, but McGregor’s standing as a UFC superstar makes this a tough case. If the UFC wants to keep McGregor from competition, that would be more than understandable. But, they may face a serious economic backlash from McGregor’s supporters who helped make his one-match boxing career so lucrative.

Fighter Michelle Waterson expressed concerns about the impression left by McGregor. If he can go into the building and cause trouble and get more coverage because of it, why shouldn’t other fighters?

She said in the same press conference her sadness for Ray Borg.

“I’m sure he wanted nothing more than to bring home a ‘W’ and a bonus for his family, his brand new family.” She feels McGregor, on the other hand, has already established himself, and therefore took money from Borg to line his already fat pockets.

When the final decision gets made, I hope McGregor doesn’t step into the octagon again.  I understand his fans would be less than appreciative, but he can’t go unpunished. The majority of those die-hards would watch McGregor no matter where he went to fight, or if he left combat sports altogether.