SBG Ireland head coach John Kavanagh has said that he understands Conor McGregor’s Bellator 187 cage-invasion at the 3Arena in Dublin on Friday night somewhat because he knows how close the UFC lightweight champion is with teammate Charlie Ward.
Ward, who was released by the UFC earlier this year after suffering back to back stoppage defeats, made his debut for Bellator on Friday’s show, taking on countryman John Redmond. In the dying seconds of what was, up until that point, a tight first round, Ward dropped Redmond with a left hook and followed up with several strikes before referee Marc Goddard intervened. Ward began celebrating and was soon joined by an overjoyed McGregor.
“Charlie is one of Conor’s very close friends and he is coming off two pretty devastating losses. He lost fast and hard in both his UFC fights and was dropped by the UFC, and then he fought at Bellator,” Kavanagh said during an interview with Ireland’s TV3 on Monday evening. “So, when you are seeing someone who you are that close with, with two bad defeats, and then they have a great victory in front of his hometown crowd – [Conor] got a bit emotional, went a bit over the top, jumped in [to the cage].”
The problem, however, was that the celebrations turned out to be a tad premature. The fight had not been officially called off.
“[Conor] didn’t realize that the fight had not actually been called. He thought when [Ward] knocked the guy down it was over, but it was actually just the end of the round – the fight wasn’t over,” Kavanagh added. “So, the referee was trying to tell him the fight’s not over, but it was pretty obvious that it was over, in [Conor’s] defence. Maybe [he was] a little bit over-emotional there, but you sort of understand when you know his and Charlie’s relationship for the last number of years.”
Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith tweeted later in the night that Goddard was initially unsure about the timing of the final blows and that he wanted to verify with the commission that they came prior to the bell before an official decision was rendered. Ward’s opponent, Redmond, has since claimed that Goddard only intervened to bring an end to the first round and that the veteran English official wanted the fight to continue. Redmond added that, in his opinion, McGregor’s antics influenced the commission and that they insisted the fight be halted(via MMAFighting).
Ward was eventually declared the winner via first-round KO, but not before McGregor committed deeds (he pushed Goddard and struck a Bellator employee) that might well land him in hot water with the UFC and/or one of the U.S athletic commissions with which he is licensed.
Here's a video clip from the John Kavanagh interview on TV3 a few minutes ago pic.twitter.com/EEjLNaHI8V
— Seán Sheehan (@SeanSheehanBA) November 13, 2017