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07th Apr 2018

Conor McGregor reached out to apologise to Rose Namajunas after bus attack

Patrick McCarry

“Did he just throw that?”

Michael Chiesa is no stranger to hyping up his UFC fights – he famously took a run at Kevin Lee during a press conference over ‘your mama’ insults last year – but even he was stunned by the attack on a bus carrying him and several MMA stars on Thursday.

Chiesa was on-board a bus of ‘red corner’ fighters, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, Al Iaquinta, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Ray Borg and Rose Namajunas, that came under fire from projectiles launched by Conor McGregor and several of his colleagues.

Chiesa was sitting right beside a window that was smashed when McGregor [caught on several cameras] tossed a hand trolley through it. Namajunas was sitting a row further back and Borg was also in the vicinity. Incredibly, Chiesa kept hold of his tooth-pick the whole time.

UFC president Dana White says Chiesa was struck by glass after that window smash and that glass particles also damaged the cornea of flyweight fighter Borg.

Both men have since been pulled from the fight card.

The bus reversed into an exit gate and had security shutters lowered while McGregor and his crew were prevented from accessing, before they made off.

One of the more disturbing images from the footage captured aboard the fighters’ bus must be that of a distraught Kowalkiewicz and Namajunas, her hood up, clearly shook by the incident. She tells those around her that she is okay as she looks down at the shattered glass around her feet.

MMa manager Alex Davis, who was on the bus, told MMA Junkie:

“Rose was really really really shaken up about this. Her husband, Pat Barry, said, ‘No, we’re going back, we’re leaving this place.’ And who’s going to stand in front of him? He’s taking his wife away from the mess. He did the right thing.”

Credit: UFC

Another bus was arranged to get the fighters back to their hotels but Namajunas and her trainer, and partner, Pat Barry opted to steer well clear and walk. White visited her later that day to check on her.

There were legitimate fears, for several hours on Thursday, that events had shaken Namajunas so much that she would not be in a fit state to defend her straw-weight title against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. After some reflection, she later told officials she would indeed defend her belt.

White was in touch, by text, with McGregor after the incident but ‘The Notorious’ also sent out messages to some that were caught up in the fiasco.

The UFC president also revealed McGregor had reached out to both Chiesa and Namajunas, and their people, to apologise. It is not clear whether either fighter responded to him.

McGregor and Cian Cowley, who was also involved in the attack and appeared in court on Friday, were both instructed that there would be no more contact with Chiesa allowed – as part of their bail terms – before they return to court on June 14.

As for Namajunas, she weighed in at the Barclays Center, scene of the attack, on Friday evening for the ceremonial weigh ins. UFC commentator Joe Rogan did not ask her about Thursday’s goings on and focused on her fight preparation. She said:

“I’m super blessed to be here, despite everything that has gone on this week. 

“I’m just grateful for another chance to face my fears and to prove to myself that I’m the best in the world. When I do my best, I am my best.”

‘Thug Rose’ was asked about the UFC potentially stripping McGregor of his lightweight belt, back in February, and said she was in favour of it as the Dubliner had not set a return date to the promotion. “I don’t think it would really hurt his career at all if they did that [stripped him],” she told UFC on FOX.

The loading bay debacle of April 5 definitely has hurt McGregor’s career.