Comment: McGregor’s actions could impact MMA’s legitimacy in Ireland

When I was scrolling through Twitter the other evening, ‘McGregor’ appeared in the ‘trending in Ireland’ section and I immediately gave a sigh and muttered “what is it this time?”

It turns out, it wasn’t anything to do with Conor McGregor at all. It was in relation to Celtic player Callum McGregor who was playing out of position during their sides exit from the Champions League earlier this week.

Not even 24 hours had passed and Twitter once again had ‘McGregor’ trending number 1 in Ireland. I know Celtic fans were angry at their team’s dismal performance but didn’t think it was enough to spill over into the next day.

It turns out, it wasn’t anything to do with Callum McGregor. It was however, everything to do with Conor McGregor punching an elderly man in a pub apparently over some sort of whiskey argument.

I’ve gone on record and defended McGregor in the past during some of his episodes outside of the Octagon but having teetered on the edge for quite some time, I have now landed firmly into the side of ‘thuggish behaviour’.

I’ve backed Conor McGregor to the hilt during his immense rise to the top of the sport of MMA and assured anyone who would listen that his bravado during press conferences was purely for show and was designed to simply build a fight in order to maximise potential earnings through pay-per-view figures.

He talked, he fought, he won and somehow spouted enough bollocks that he found his way into the biggest payday any MMA fighter is likely to receive in his fight with Floyd Mayweather.

Since then, the former dual weight champion has created a hugely successful whiskey brand, broken people’s phones, had in cage ructions with referees, been involved in a post fight brawl with Khabib Nurmagomedov and now finds himself in trouble for striking a patron in a pub.

The video has been doing the rounds in some of the world’s largest media sources and with former foe Nate Diaz lighting up a cigarette in a pre-fight workout ahead of his fight this weekend, UFC President Dana White must be slamming his head off a desk with these escapades.

In the case of Conor McGregor, the UFC backed him all the way despite destroying a bus with his team mates in New York. For christ sake, they even used the footage to build the fight despite fighters being traumatised from the incident just a couple of days before most were due to compete on the card.

The UFC have yet to release any sort of statement on the incident at the time of writing but if their bar is property destruction and vandalism then this is probably small fry in the eyes of the morally bankrupt UFC.

Going back to the video, there’s no sound attached so we only have speculation as to what kind of conversation took place just before the incident. Many suggest that McGregor was triggered over a jibe about his whiskey brand ‘Proper 12’.

Whiskey is one of those drinks that tends to make people a little more angry than usual so when you mix it with the seemingly now short fuse of Conor McGregor, this was always going to be a disaster.

Reading comments online, the tide has more or less completely turned on him and to be fair, it probably had a long time ago.

Will he care? Probably not. He’s made his money, has some solid investments and public opinion probably doesn’t matter to him now that he has established himself as a wealthy millionaire.

He’s still got his fans but even then, they seem to be losing interest very quickly. It’s understandable given that he is unlikely to fight again in the UFC any time soon.

As for the promotion, they’ll no doubt be happy to try and entice him back into competition because he’s still a big draw for them at least in their eyes anyway.

That’s all well and good for the likes of a mammoth promotion like the UFC but back home, McGregor’s antics will have a knock on effect for the future of MMA in this country – at least in the short term.

I’ve made it clear in many of my opinion pieces that getting MMA to a platform whereby it is a recognised sport is the number one priority.

The sport has and will continue to have its detractors from people who don’t even know anything about the sport but have a lot of influence in the media and with the powers that be.

McGregor striking an elderly man in a pub is not a good look for him, MMA or the image of the sport whatsoever where its athletes are portrayed as barbaric and thuggish.

What Conor did was thuggish and is so far out of whack with the values of discipline and control that many young and established fighters pride themselves in.

Defending the sport can be tiresome but it’s what I’ve always done and it’s what I’ll continue to do but it’s hard to defend someone like Conor McGregor who seems to thrive on the chaos he creates for himself.

A real shame.

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