A week after his Late Late Show appearance defused much of the furore around his unfortunate homophobic remarks at UFC Gdansk, Conor McGregor landed himself right back into a firestorm.
By vaulting the cage, at Bellator Dublin in the 3 Arena, McGregor could not be faulted too much. He was ecstatic that his SBG teammate Charlie Ward had arrested a two fight losing skid and got back to winning ways.
As he has done for the likes of Ward, Gunnar Nelson and Artem Lobov in the past, McGregor could barely contain himself during and after their fights. Some would frown on this and say McGregor could just wait a minute or two before he was finally allowed enter the fighting area but we will put that down to his sheer exuberance.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 10, 2017
What is unacceptable, though, was McGregor’s snap decision to go after fight referee Marc Goddard and push him when he tried to clear him from the scene. McGregor was not an officially sanctioned corner-man for Ward so Goddard was within his rights to order ‘The Notorious’ away.
The pair have history, though, and McGregor has not seemed to have forgotten. Only last month, at UFC Gdansk, Goddard had stopped Lobov’s fight against Andrew Fili to warn McGregor from circling the cage and shouting/coaching his teammate. Again, McGregor was not officially a corner-man for the bout.
The push on Goddard was bad enough but, minutes after being removed from the cage, McGregor came back for more. He tried to re-enter the cage and, when met by a Bellator official preventing him access, he aimed a clear slap that connected and drew an ‘Ooooohhh’ from the MMA fans in attendance.
Conor McGregor slaps commissioner after confrontation with referee https://t.co/OjzWEZMZtO
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) November 10, 2017
Pushing Goddard was foolish but this second confrontation has rightly angered so many.
What made it worse was that the clash spilled over to where John Redmond knelt, recovering from his knock-out at the hands of Ward. The stricken Redmond was jostled in the scrum and had to crawl away as it all turned ugly.
Bellator event was overseen by US-based Mohegan Sun commission director and ABC head Mike Mazzulli. His actions and comments on tonight will be interesting. Expect something in next 24-48 hours.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 10, 2017
Mazzulli told reporters in Dublin that McGregor is not above MMA but it remains to be seen if there will be one rule for all fighters and a different one for McGregor.
Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting has noted that the Mohegan Sun commission can hand out a ban to the Dubliner. As it is a powerful and respected body, the likes of the California, Nevada and New York State Athletic Commissions may choose to back Mohegan Sun and uphold the ban in their states.
McGregor could receive a ban ranging from as little and lenient as a fine to a ban from competing in events and, most stringently, being kicked out of the UFC. That last scenario is unlikely but it was the fate that befell Jason High, back in 2014, when he pushed a UFC referee. At the time, UFC president Dana White declared:
“I’m going to cut him… You don’t ever, ever f***ing touch a referee; ever. You’re done here. He’s been apologising on Twitter, but he’s done.”
It would appear more likely that McGregor could be banned for between three and six months by the Mohegan Sun. After that, it would be up to commissions to see if they are willing to uphold the ruling and prevent McGregor from fighting in their states.
Right now, a McGregor return to face Tony Ferguson at the December 30 staging of UFC 219 is looking highly doubtful.