McGregor’s UFC future in doubt in wake of felony charges
By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Cocksure and uncouth, Conor McGregor was never afraid to defy authority.
He dressed in fur coats and swung chairs at news conferences, reaped the riches of his dalliance with boxing, and demanded his boss cut him an ownership stake in the MMA promotion that made him one of the sport’s most notorious names.
What McGregor wanted, McGregor got — in cash, championships, and living his best luxe life.
After one more decisive victory in New York, McGregor scaled the UFC octagon and draped two championship belts over his shoulder while a sold-out crowd roared in approval.
In the underbelly of a New York arena 17 months later, McGregor went wild, using a dolly, chairs and guard rails as weapons, not his fists. Fueled by revenge and running with a pack of his “hoodlums,” McGregor’s antics landed him in jail — and injured two fighters on Saturday’s UFC 223 card.
Quiet and humbled, McGregor couldn’t talk his way out of trouble in a New York courtroom.
McGregor was arraigned Friday on charges of felony criminal mischief charges and misdemeanor assault, menacing and reckless endangerment charges following a backstage melee he sparked at a UFC event in New York City.
He spoke only to acknowledge that he understood the conditions of his release, saying, “Yes, your honor.”
McGregor was released on $50,000 bond — pocket change for a fighter who was guaranteed $30 million last year in his ballyhooed boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. McGregor is due back in court June 14.
Video footage appeared to show the promotion’s most bankable star throwing a hand truck at a bus full of fighters on Thursday after a news conference for UFC 223 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
McGregor was trying to get at UFC 223 main event fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov because the Russian had been involved in a hotel altercation with fellow fighter Artem Lobov. McGregor tried to stick up for Lobov, a close friend, and apparently loaded a private jet with his best buds and flew to New York to rumble.
UFC President Dana White said Friday he spoke to McGregor via text and the brawler said the confrontation “had to be done.”
“It was probably the worst conversation we ever had,” White told FS1’s “First Things First” on Friday. “We talked yesterday before he turned himself in.
“It’s not that I don’t think he understood what happened. He justified it. It was justified to him.”
White said the 29-year-old McGregor said he was sorry about the fighters who were injured, but, “this had to be done.”
Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg were both pulled from the fight because of injuries suffered on the bus from McGregor’s shenanigans.
Video showed McGregor with a group of people causing chaos Thursday as they took an elevator to the loading dock at Barclays Center. He can be seen tossing trash cans and being prevented from throwing a barricade at a bus during his unannounced appearance in New York.
“Guys will say things, push, shove, grab each other. These things have happened,” White said. “People have slapped each other. We can deal with all of that stuff. But when you bring in twenty hoodlums that flew in from Ireland to basically do this at our event, there’s nothing like this that has ever happened.”
White had not talked to McGregor since the court appearance and said this was no publicity stunt.
Lobov was pulled from Saturday’s card for his involvement in the ugly act. McGregor’s friend and co-defendant Cian Cowley was released on $25,000 bond and also is due in court in June.
McGregor hasn’t fought for UFC since November 2016 and was stripped this week by White of the 155-pound championship he had never defended.
McGregor profanely responded on Twitter and wrote, “You’ll strip me of nothing.”
The brashness was muted as cameras snapped Friday when he was brought out of a New York City police station in handcuffs.
White said earlier this week in New York that McGregor would fight again for UFC this year. McGregor’s actions now put future fights in doubt. He could have had his pick of rich fights. A rematch against Mayweather inside the cage? A third fight against Nate Diaz? It all seemed possible — and it now seems a long way off.
UFC has not immediately issued discipline against its biggest box office attraction.
McGregor once held the 145 and 155-pound championships at the same time and boldly stated he wanted an ownership stake in UFC.
But the trash-talking, egocentric has been out of the fight game except for his money fight with Mayweather that made him wealthy enough to never need to step inside the cage again.
The Mayweather bout last August was his last professional fight and McGregor and his girlfriend also had a son last year.
But not even fatherhood could mellow the irate Irishman.
He was ordered to stay away from five people injured in the attack.
McGregor’s lawyer, Jim Walden, said there was no risk that McGregor would try to avoid coming back to court: “He’s the most visible face on the planet.”
It’s one usually plastered on a UFC poster.
This time, it was seen on a mug shot.
Associated Press writer Verena Dobnik contributed from New York