After the chaos that ensued in Brooklyn on Thursday night, people are correct to criticise Conor McGregor’s actions but it should not be an indictment on mixed martial arts as a whole.
UFC 223 has been a rollercoaster ride in the lead up to the event on Saturday night. As if losing Tony Ferguson vs Khabib Nurmagomedov for the fourth time wasn’t enough, we have also now lost three more fights since Thursday night.
In case you have been living under a rock for the past 12 hours, Conor McGregor and some fellow crew members gatecrashed a media day event in Brooklyn. McGregor and his cohorts ended up in the loading bay where many fighters were on buses waiting to leave the premises.
McGregor could be heard shouting for Nurmagomedov and even went so far as to throw a dolly into the back of a window thus shattering the glass and injuring fighters Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg who were due to fight on the card on Saturday night.
All of this stems from an altercation between McGregor’s team mate Artem Lobov, Khabib Nurmagomedov and his team mates who cornered Lobov in a hotel. As a result, Lobov was moved to a different hotel and McGregor – who had not been in New York at the time – flew from Dublin to his friend’s side.
Consequently, Artem Lobov who was due to fight Alex Caceres, is now off the card. Whether or not it’s for his own safety or for some involvement in the fracas that ensued is still unclear but it is a disappointing and disgraceful series of events that occured over night.
According to various reports, Conor McGregor has turned himself in and although no details of his charges have been announced, it is likely that he will face charges on assault and vandalism.
I am not a member of a gym like SBG or Team Ryano. I’m not even a fighter. I am an outsider as such but I understand that within combat sports gym, there is an emphasis on team work and building up fighters to help them on their quest for glory.
Loyalty counts for a lot and SBG certainly seems to have that in spades but there’s a huge difference between loyalty and stupidity.
What Conor McGregor did falls under the category of both. Being there for your friend and flying half way across the world to do so is one thing but to actually assault staff/fighters and vandalise buses with a gang is thuggish and cowardly.
For somebody who has gone through the tediousness of media obligations in the middle of a weight cut, McGregor’s actions are selfish and cowardly particularly when fighters have sacrificed months of hard work and money to train for a fight.
There is no doubting that Conor McGregor’s athletic ability is phenomenal and his thrash talking helped to hype up some incredibly memorable events in UFC history. But when it comes to assault and vandalism, it’s thuggery at its absolute worst.
MEDIA AND THE WIDER ISSUE
MMA doesn’t usually get covered in the mainstream media in Ireland unless Conor McGregor is involved but you can be sure that there will be plenty of “we told you so” type of articles popping up in the next few days.
At the end of the day, people like who they like in sports. Painting Conor McGregor in a negative light or calling him a “scumbag” etc is nothing new but there is a bigger issue here and that is the negative portrayal of MMA as a whole.
Mixed Martial Arts is not a recognised sport in Ireland under Sport Ireland. IMMAF currently self regulate in conjunction with SAFE MMA to ensure the safety of fighters before and after their scheduled fights.
Minister Shane Ross isn’t exactly the biggest fan of MMA and Conor McGregor’s latest escapade surely won’t help matters in getting the sport recognised and officially regulated.
Public perception will be that all fighters are barbarians who are ready to cause mayhem at a moment’s notice. This thought process isn’t exactly new and the incident in Brooklyn won’t do anything to diminish these thoughts unfortunately. But it’s these comments that do not help the cause for MMA in Ireland and it is these dissenting voices that gain the most traction unfortunately.
It’s a real shame to see a fighter who, like him or hate him, brought MMA to the mainstream and gave us some of the most memorable moments in the sports history from an Irish sporting point of view.
I still love MMA. As I’ve alluded to previously, I will defend mixed martial arts until I am long gone from this earth but it is absolutely ok to condemn these actions while still promoting the sport in a positive light.