The Conor McGregor era, as it pertains to the UFC's lightweight division, will be over the second that Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway enter thewhen McGregor is officially stripped.
But aftercaused by McGregor, who made a surprise appearance at UFC 223 media day in Brooklyn, New York, it's a wonder whether his era as the sport's most important fighter just came to an end right along with it.
McGregor, 29, stormed Barclays Center with his team, reportedly looking for Nurmagomedov, who had slapped McGregor's teammate, Artem Lobov, at the fighter hotel on Monday. After finding Nurmagomedov inside a van carrying UFC fighters and personnel, McGregor proceeded to throw chairs, trash cans, a hand cart and even a bike rack at the windows,.
According to UFC president Dana White, who met with media members shorty after, lightweight Michael Chiesa suffered severe cuts to his head and face and needed to be hospitalized. Women's strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, who like Chiesa is scheduled for Saturday's card, barely avoided getting hurt and was so shaken up that she left the arena on foot. An unidentified UFC employee also broke a knuckle on his hand.
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This wasn't the kind of quick-witted trash talk McGregor has often used to stir up interest for fights and help both himself and UFC become handsomely rich. It wasn't even the reckless yet still somewhat tame miscue of throwing water bottles at Nate Diaz during a.
What happened in Brooklyn was a very real and dangerous disturbance caused by a maniacal man who continues to act more untouchable with each new incident. The fact that McGregor's actions put so many lives in danger was a bridge too far for anyone -- particularly UFC -- to waste anymore time enabling him for financial gain.
White called McGregor's actions "the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company." In many ways, he was right.
Had McGregor approached Nurmagomedov to exchange heated words or even shove him, UFC could've had another blockbuster fight on its hands. But this escalated past the point of fun and games to a level where the promotion was lucky no one lost their lives, let alone suffered the kind of serious injuries that could've put Saturday's blockbuster card in jeopardy.
"After this disgusting and despicable move, I think everybody's relationship with Conor is going to be not so great," White said. "I don't know if he's on drugs or what his deal is. But to come in here and do this and act like this? This is a guy with a baby. You have a son at home.
"This is the type of bad decision you make that turns a lot of people against you. What happened today was criminal, disgusting, despicable, it makes me sick and we as an organization need to make sure this never happens again."
To ensure that, UFC needs to act in a manner as swift and severe as possible. McGregor is expected to face multiple lawsuits and criminal charges pending an investigation from the New York Police Department, but it's UFC which needs to hand down the kind of unprecedented suspension that sends a clear and profound message.
There are moments that can tarnish a company's image (if not the sport in general) forever. If White's comments are any indication, it's clear UFC understands just how lucky it was from a financial and public relations standpoint in avoiding such an ordeal. Now it needs to do everything in its power to make sure any retaliation from the Nurmagomedov camp is confined to UFC's Octagon.
McGregor's decision on Thursday comes at the tail end of a puzzling run following his TKO boxing loss to Floyd Mayweather last August, which netted him a reported $100 million.
In October, McGregor was ejected from a cageside seat at a UFC card in Sweden by referee Marc Goddard for circling the Octagon and shouting instructions to a teammate. One month later, while attending a Bellator MMA card in Dublin to support another training partner, McGregor was also rumored to have been involved in an altercation with the Irish mafia., twice pushing Goddard and taking a swing at a Bellator official. During this time, McGregor
McGregor hasn't fought in MMA since making history in 2016 by defeating lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez to become the only UFC fighter to hold titles in multiple weight classes simultaneously. Few could've guessed, however, what the 500-plus days which followed would look like for UFC.
While the leverage and control McGregor acquired was originally praised, everything he has done since (with the exception of the revenue brought in from his pro boxing debut) has been negative for the company. UFC lost its biggest pay-per-view star at the time it needed him most -- fresh off a $4 billion sale. Meanwhile, the fallout of McGregor never once defending his 155-pound title wreaked havoc with such a loaded division.
McGregor has acted for too long like he's bigger than the sport. He's not. By making the decision to strip him on Saturday, UFC had finally began to show it was ready to take a stand. Now it's time to move on for good with a punishment severe enough, it will put McGregor back in a state where he needs MMA more than it needs him.
That's the only way McGregor, should he use the time to humbly rehabilitate his decision making, will ever be worth the baggage that extraordinary success has helped him accumulate.