'I want to f**k him up' - UFC fighter slams McGregor for 'lack of morals' after film of pub punch attack hits US headlines
A UFC fighter who was scheduled to fight Conor McGregor in his comeback bout has said he wants to "f**k him up" for attacking a man in a Dublin pub.
Justin 'The Highlight' Gaethje was due to fight McGregor in July before a hand injury lead to the bout being cancelled.
Speaking this weekend, Gaethje said anyone who hasn't lost respect for McGregor since the video emerged of him attacking the innocent man in a Drimnagh pub is "a piece of s**t".
McGregor, who hasn't won a fight in over three years, launched a PR damage limitation campaign on Thursday claiming he was sorry for punching the 50-year-old Dubliner in the Marble Arch pub because he refused a shot of the UFC star's Proper No.12 whiskey. The victim of the attack said McGregor, who is expected to face charges, has not apologised to him despite claiming in an American TV interview that he had "made amends" over the matter.
McGregor is understood to be trying to get back fighting and did the feature with ESPN as part of PR campaign to repair the damage to his reputation from his out-of-control antics.
Gaethje told TMZ he'd happily punch the head off McGregor after watching the video footage of him attacking the man in the pub.
"Of course I want to f**k him up," he said. 'I see him punch an old man, do I want to punch him for that? F**k yeah, I want to f**k that dude up for s**t like that. He looks like a crackhead on the video."
He said he lost a lot of respect for McGregor as a result.
"Absolutely. Who didn't? If you don't, then you're a piece of s**t yourself," he added. "C'mon. The lack of respect, lack of morals, whatever you wanna call it… there is no excuse to act like that."
Gaethje is based in Colorado and is currently the fourth ranked Top Lightweight MMA fighter.
In the interview with ESPN, McGregor confirmed that he was scheduled to fight during the summer and UFC chiefs were lining up a clash with Gaethje at Madison Square Garden.
However, a broken hand in May ruined those plans and McGregor needed surgery to repair the damage.
Yesterday, Gaethje also mocked the Dubliner over being forced to tap out against Russian fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov last October and predicted that McGregor's ego would lead to further defeats.
"He has a lot of money. I think he should enjoy his money," he said. "We all get into this to make enough money to get out of this. But he has a big ass ego so I'm sure it's going to get him knocked out one or two more times."
He said the only reason McGregor did the EPSN interview was because he wants to get back into fighting.
"He did that interview for a reason," he insisted. "That means he wants to fight. His ego will get him put to sleep one or two more times."
McGregor has come in for harsh criticism since video footage of the incident emerged but this weekend he received backing from former boxer Mike Tyson
"He's a wonderful person. He's a really kind man and he's gonna get good karma for that," Tyson said. "I believe that."
He added that he felt McGregor had "earned" another chance.
Tyson made a comeback to boxing in 1995 despite having served three years in prison for rape.
Two years later he bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear during a fight at the MGM arena in Las Vegas. He had a number of brushes with the law in subsequent years related to drug addiction and was jailed in 2007 after being caught driving while high on cocaine.
In an interview around that time he said: "My whole life has been a waste - I've been a failure."
McGregor said this week he was "in the wrong" for punching the man in the Marble Arch.
"That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having to end the way it did," he told the cameras. "I tried to make amends and I made amends back then - it still, that doesn't even matter. I was in the wrong.
"I must come here before you and take accountability and take responsibility. I owe it to the people that have been supporting me. I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people who trained me."
His victim pointed out that McGregor apologised to his fans but didn't say sorry to him.