By Thomas Albano
I was going to make a video for the Cheap Seats Youtube this week, after Tony Ferguson was replaced with Max Holloway for this Saturday’s UFC 223 main event, on the laughable madness that is the UFC lightweight division.
But I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t. Because on April 5, the UFC 223 card, and the promotion itself, was rocked.
The UFC was holding a media day for the UFC pay-per-view, which is headlined by UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway facing Khabib Nurmagomedov. The winner would receive the UFC Lightweight Title, which would be stripped from Conor McGregor — following a reign of about 17 months with zero title defenses — with the first strike of the said bout.
But McGregor showed up at the UFC 223 media day in Brooklyn, New York. And what we got was madness.
Early in the afternoon of April 5, McGregor, along with teammate and fellow UFC fighter Artem Lobov, and several other members of his team showed up to the Barclays Center, site of UFC 223, and raised hell. McGregor and crew began to bang on windows as a vehicle filled with UFC fighters was ready to depart the arena. Notably, McGregor threw a hand dolly and smashed one of the vehicle’s windows.
Michael Chiesa, who was scheduled to face Anthony Pettis on the main card, was cut with lacerations. He was transported to a hospital, and while he felt well, the New York State Athletic Commission deemed the lacerations, along with the weight he still had to cut, too much to handle and canceled the bout.
A bout between flyweights Ray Borg and Brandon Moreno was called off because of Borg’s suffering an eye injury in the ordeal. Several other fighters were “shaken up” by the incident, including UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas — who defends her title in the UFC 223 co-main event — who was nearly hit during the altercation. A UFC employee also suffered a broken knuckle during the violent outburst.
The attack was supposedly in retaliation to Khabib and his team confronting Lobov when the latter was alone. According to UFC President Dana White, two journalists from The Mac Life let McGregor into the facility.
Following the event, White addressed the media, with no prepared statement in hand. White called McGregor’s actions “the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of [the UFC].” He went on to say that McGregor has ruined professional relationships and that the former UFC featherweight and lightweight titleholder will be in jail.
Lobov’s bout with Alex Caceres was canceled because of Lobov’s participation in the attack. At 11 p.m. ET, later that night, McGregor turned himself into NYPD custody.
McGregor, according to the BBC, will be in court the morning of April 6, facing assault charges. No lawsuits have been filed against McGregor or the UFC yet, but White says he sees McGregor will be “sued beyond belief.”
Scary to say, but it’s kind of courageous to see the lengths McGregor went to in order to help his friend. The issue — it’s affected people who had nothing to do with the McGregor vs. Khabib rivalry. Because of McGregor’s actions, five people not named Artem Lobov (and dare I say at least three people more important to the UFC than Artem Lobov) are not competing at UFC 223.
If you find yourself wanting to side with McGregor, do me a favor — put yourself in the shoes of Michael Chiesa or Ray Borg. You’re training hard, prepping for the weight cut, it may be one of the biggest fights of your career. And now, nothing. Well, something — an injury. And no fight bonus payday all because of some bull that you weren’t involved with.
And if you still don’t understand, I dare you to go to Brooklyn and tell those fighters your defense of McGregor to their face.
This is already the third consecutive UFC PPV event to not have its originally planned main event. UFC 221 saw Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker pull out because of a staph infection, and UFC 222 saw Holloway (coincidentally enough) forced out of his planned title bout due to injury.
The UFC is lucky Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is happening at UFC 223. Imagine if that fight got canceled — the card would have lost both of its original main events and three additional cards. Not to mention, there’s the uncertainty of Khabib and Holloway’s weigh-ins (plus the combat sports world lost Canelo-GGG II this week). And how much more could the UFC 223 take before they’re forced to offer refunds?
So, what should happen as a result of this incident?
- Strip Conor of the UFC Lightweight Title (OFFICIALLY and ASAP) – They have stated that McGregor would be stripped once the main event of UFC 223 starts. My question: what happens if there’s a weight issue with one Khabib or Holloway? What if there’s a last-minute cancelation again? Even if something causes the planned main event of UFC 223 to not go on, McGregor should be stripped. He hasn’t defended the title in 17 months, and the UFC needs to show priority and appeal to morals and ethics in times like these.
- Blacklist MacLife reporters – If it’s true that McGregor was let in via two reports from The MacLife website, those reports should lose their credentials and be blacklisted from MMA events (let alone UFC events).
- McGregor revoked of fighting license – I don’t see how it can be any less of this ultimate punishment. If he gets just a slap on the wrist, it’s honestly kind of disgusting.
If Mike Tyson gets a license revoking for the biting of Evander Holyfield’s ear, if Jon Jones gets an indefinite suspension for a hit-and-run of a pregnant woman, then surely McGregor deserves quite the punishment.
With McGregor’s superstardom, the UFC can’t just outright fire him. There will be some promotion (Bellator maybe? Maybe not considering the Marc Goddard incident from back in the fall) who’ll try to grab him up immediately upon availability. And the UFC has lost the likes of Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones and Georges St Pierre, so they’re already suffering from star-power loss at it is.
But the revoking prevents anything like that and prevents a payday for McGregor.
And if for some cruel reason, this ends up being all a work for promotion for an eventual Conor-Khabib showdown (just for you conspiracy theorists out there), the UFC gets to face quite a roadblock.
In conclusion, this may have been career-suicide for Conor. It’s sad to see he’s fallen off the deep end.
On Wednesday, April 4, White stated it would be great for Conor to show up to UFC 223. My how time changes things.