While there are plenty of people within the Irish media that seem overly eager to criticize Conor McGregor, even ‘The Notorious’ one’s most ardent supporters must admit that he has been handing these critics round after round of ammunition as of late.
The commotion over his homophobic remarks at UFC Gdansk on October 21st was just beginning to die down in the wake of his subsequent apology on The Late Late Show, when McGregor whipped up a fresh furore with his actions at Dublin’s 3Arena on Friday night.
The 29-year-old Pay-per-view star invaded the cage at Bellator 187, after it appeared as though his teammate Charlie Ward had scored a rehabilitative TKO victory over John Redmond. The fight, however, had not been officially called off at that time. As referee Marc Goddard explained later, he had jumped in between Ward and Redmond believing the round was at it’s end, not because he felt that a stoppage was merited.
As he tried to communicate this to a celebrating, McGregor-clad Ward, Goddard briefly put his hands on the UFC lightweight champion. Things escalated from there, as McGregor pursued and pushed the referee, had to be restrained, and later slapped a Bellator employee. Ward was eventually declared a TKO victor when it was determined that Goddard’s intervention had, in fact, come before the bell, but that in no way justified McGregor’s actions.
— Michael Morgan (@mikewhoatv) November 10, 2017
Though he later offered an apology in a social media statement, McGregor remained critical of Goddard.
“The referee Marc [Goddard] was making a horrendous decision in trying to pick an unconscious fighter up off the floor and force the fight to continue into the second round,” McGregor wrote. “Even against the wishes of the said fighters coach. The fight was over.”
The incident garnered mainstream media attention in Ireland and was one of the talking points on Wednesday’s edition of Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge, a midweek staple of Irish broadcaster RTÉ.
Joining host O’Connor in the discussion were Irish journalists Jennifer O’Connell, Aisling O’Loughlin, and David Davin-Power, the latter whom went in very hard on McGregor, his fans, and the sport of MMA, while suggesting that the Dublin fighter was representative of a negative change within Irish society and culture.
“That’s the ref he just socked, by the way,” said Davin-Power, after a clip of the incident was shown. “There was an enormous row about this, and the governing authorities, who include, bizarrely, the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, have caused Conor McGregor to make a very unusual gesture – he has apologized. He said that what he did was wrong and, in a typically illiterate and ungrammatical outpouring, he changed his tune from what he said immediately afterwards when he was criticized for going into the ring. When he [initially] tweeted, the tweet culminated in ‘f yous’ – in other words he was defiant at the time.
“But it’s good to see somebody standing up to Conor McGregor,” he added. “I think he’s a bully and I think he represents all that’s wrong about society post the crash. I think he’s an icon, a kind of love/hate icon if you know what I mean. I think that he represents all the polarisation and all the coarseness and all the bile that has infused society via social media and all the rest of it over the last ten years.
“When you think what he’s gotten away with in terms of misogyny and homophobia and all the rest of it, anybody – you and I – would be pilloried, we’d be out of a job if we said half the things he did.”
When it was pointed out to Davin-Power that McGregor apologized for making the homophobic remarks to which he was referring, the journalist responded, “He did, but the apology was mealy-mouthed.”
“There was dog-whistling going on there, that’s the sort of language his fans understand,” he added, seemingly referring to the reaction of the crowd in the footage that had just been shown.
“It’s a shame that when this society is getting back on its feet that he’s the type of role model that’s put forward internationally. Make no mistake about it, he is a huge, huge seller for this country. He is huge abroad.”
“I think he gives two fingers to society in general – and to the middle-classes in particular – and that’s fair enough,” Davin-Power went on to say. “But that message is accompanied by a lot of vitriol.”
“There’s plenty of people who have been outspoken and who have been the same kind of energetic forces of nature in this country that have done it without recourse to the kind of language that he habitually uses.
“He represents a new image of Ireland, it’s probably a flash in the pan. Indeed, the whole sport is probably a flash in the pan. One of the lessons you could draw from that incident in the 3Arena is that it’s not a particularly well regulated sport if somebody can just jump into the ring and sock the ref.”
“I think he is fundamentally bad for this country,” added Davin-Power.“I think he is reflecting something. I mean, I think this country has changed since the economic crash. I think there is an edge to people now. I think in politics you can see it, society is generally more polarised. That’s been facilitated by social media, where people say outrageous things and there’s no sanction. I think that’s the sort of Ireland he represents. And personally, I don’t like it.”
Check out a clip from the show below…
— Cutting Edge (@CuttingEdgeRTE) November 15, 2017
In the absence of a local regulatory body capable of overseeing an MMA event like Bellator 187 in Dublin, the promotion called in the Mike Mazzulli-led Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation(MTDAR). Following McGregor’s actions, Mazzulli was in contact with UFC management and the members of the Association of Boxing Commissions(ABC) with which the SBG Ireland star is currently licensed to fight. During an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, the MTDAR director claimed the UFC had informed him that McGregor was originally penciled in to compete at UFC 219 on December 30th but that the they had decided to remove him as a result of the Bellator incident. Mazzulli commended the promotion for taking action.
Mazzulli added that, while he didn’t know what the relevant ABC members would do in response to McGregor’s behaviour, he would be in favour of imposing a fine and a suspension.
As well as holding the position of MTDAR director, Mazzulli is notably the current ABC president.