Monday 19 August 2019

Comment: 'Mr McGregor is not bigger than the sport of MMA' - We are about to find out if he is

Jack O'Toole

Here we go again. More madness. More chaos. More mayhem. More Conor McGregor.

It was only last week McGregor sat across from Ryan Tubirdy on the Late Late Show and spoke about how far he’s come over the last four years and how he’s had the support of his family and partner Dee Devlin on his meteoric rise from plumber's apprentice to self-made multi-millionaire.

A Hollywood movie… literally.

McGregor also took time on the show to apologise (to anyone that was offended) for calling UFC fighter Andre Fili a f****t.

“I'm human, I slip up, I say stupid things every damn day. All I can (do) is hold my hand up and apologise if anyone was offended.”

He may say stupid things every damn day, but until now his stupidity was often limited to just words, now it dominates his actions.

On Friday evening at Bellator 187 at the 3 Arena in Dublin, McGregor stormed the cage after SBG teammate Charlie Ward’s first round knockout of John Redmond.

Within seconds of the fight finishing, McGregor scaled the fence of the cage and ran towards Ward to congratulate the Portlaoise fighter on his fourth professional victory.

Referee Marc Goddard, who just last month reprimanded McGregor for repeatedly yelling instructions at Artem Lobov during the Russian’s loss to Fili, was not a fan of the Dubliner (who was not a licensed cornerman for Ward’s fight) entering the cage just seconds after the bout’s conclusion.

Goddard said of McGregor yelling from cageside in Gdansk: “Conor was basically acting like a fourth cornerman. Walking around the cage side wherever and whenever he wanted. When Fili took down Artem, Conor was right there. That’s simply not fair and not allowed. I won’t have it. He can’t do as he pleases.”

No. Clearly not. He just pushed a referee and struck a commissioner.

Given his stance on McGregor barking unsolicited instruction, Goddard unsurprisingly took exception to the UFC Lightweight champion’s cage invasion.

Goddard addressed McGregor before the Irish intruder chased the veteran referee across the cage before pushing him, as McGregor stumbled over a downed Redmond who was visibly still regaining his wits following the knockout loss. One of the saddest sights of this whole debacle.

But not to be deterred, a separate video uploaded by Lethal Media later showed McGregor striking another official after scaling the fence of the cage for a second time.

It’s one thing to say stupid things, if that’s what we’re going to define homophobic comments as, but it’s another thing entirely to scale a cage, push a referee and strike another official in a completely unnecessary and shockingly deliberate act.

So what happens now?

Apart from whatever issues the Gardai may have with McGregor's cage invasion and subsequent actions, we know in other sports that making contact with an official can result in a lifetime ban, but what about MMA? What’s the precedent?

Here’s UFC President Dana White on his decision to cut welterweight Jason High from the promotion after High shoved referee Kevin Mulhall following Rafael dos Anjos’ second-round victory at UFC Fight Night 42 in 2014.

“I don’t care how mad you are, how upset you are,” White said.

“You don’t touch a referee ever. Unforgivable. Don’t come back, ever.”

He continued:

“I heard – I didn’t even see it – that he put his hands on a referee. Done. You touched a referee. Done. Over.”

High had a 2-2 record in the promotion.

Heavyweight Roy Nelson won his 18th fight in the UFC when he kicked referee John McCarthy after his knockout victory over good friend Antonio Silva at UFC Fight Night 95.

His explanation?

"It just hurt me that I've got to keep on hitting a guy (Silva) that doesn't need to be hit."

White’s reaction?

"You can’t apologize for that," White said. "You don’t ever, ever put your f*****g hands on a referee, or your feet, for any reason whatso-f*****g-ever. You don’t do it. He needs to be buried. He went over there and he put his foot on his ass to like push him over, you know what I mean? Was flipping him off, yelling whatever. You wanna flip a ref off, there is never, ever a situation where you put your f**king hands on a referee. Ever. You can’t apologize for that."

Nelson was issued a nine-month suspension by the Brazilian Superior Justice Court of MMA (STJDMMA) for assault and unethical behavior.

Does White start preparing the headstone and digging the grave for the biggest star in his company’s history or does he betray his instinctive nature and wait and see how this situation pans out?

Here’s the latest:

The Bellator event was regulated by Mike Mazzulli, president of the Association of Boxing Commissions.

It is not immediately clear whether McGregor will face any disciplinary action by the UFC or a regulatory body.

However, after the event Mazzulli told the Telegraph: "Mr. McGregor is not bigger than the sport of MMA."

We are about to find out if he is.

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