Enough is enough.
Following Thursday’s chaotic melee outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., it’s time for the UFC to officially cut ties with Irish fighter Conor McGregor.
Many of you readers out there will balk at this statement, but it’s time to separate McGregor the fighter from McGregor the persona.
It would be easy to argue for McGregor’s accolades in the cage. He held simultaneous titles in two of the UFC’s deepest divisions and has won 17 of his last 18 MMA fights. The 29-year-old captured the mainstream audience with his propensity for knockouts — 18 in his 21 career wins.
However, it’s not what he has done in the cage that is harming the sport and the UFC’s brand. The antics witnessed in New York are not a one-time thing. The Irishman’s brash personality may have earned him the largest paydays in recent memory and set up his boxing superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., but it’s also put a black eye on the sport.
Remember the water bottle throwing incident with Nate Diaz?
Or how about McGregor jumping into the cage during a Bellator event?
Reports out of New York have indicated that at least one fighter was hospitalized as a result of McGregor’s actions. And UFC President Dana White has stated that the NYPD has issued an arrest warrant for McGregor. Is that the type of icon the sport of MMA needs? Does a sport that has had to claw its way out of a bad initial reputation as “human cockfighting” need an icon who can’t control his emotions and acts as if he’s above the sport and the law?
The UFC was not-so-subtly stripping McGregor of his lightweight title at UFC 223 after he failed to defend it for the past 18 months. The organization had already done the same with the featherweight title. That, coupled with the recent trash talk from Khabib Nurmagomedov, sparked the frenzy in Brooklyn. Now, McGregor’s pattern of outlandish behavior needs to be met with a heavy hand.
Some of you will claim that McGregor just drew more attention to this weekend’s event. The problem is that it’s the wrong kind of attention. Instead of talking about Saturday night’s fight card, casual fans will be talking about McGregor going unhinged like he was part of some scripted WWE segment.
If you’re a fan of McGregor, you might want to come to terms with the fact that he may never fight in the UFC again. It was already going to be an uphill battle for the promotion to meet his monetary demands after his lucrative boxing payday last summer. Add in the fact that McGregor is not a citizen of the United States and an arrest for his actions could make it difficult to secure a visa for future fights, and the prospects dim even more.
Immediately following the incident, White indicated that his once thriving relationship with McGregor may be over. But after the PR nightmare the promotion has already endured with former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, does it really want to go through it all over again with the “Notorious” one?
At some point, the harm to the promotion’s brand will outweigh the benefits of having McGregor on the roster. With such a high cost both monetarily and from a public-relations standpoint, McGregor may have done the UFC a favor by making it easy for the company to just walk away.