Conor McGregor has never been one to shy away from controversy.
While there is no denying the Irishman’s skill in the cage, part of his appeal has always been his penchant to generate buzz.
McGregor’s marketing efforts and (sometimes) irrational behavior are usually reserved for when he has an upcoming fight. But after his teammate won a bout at a Bellator card, McGregor leaped back into sports headlines as he leaped over the cage to congratulate his friend.
When Charlie Ward knocked out John Redmond at Bellator 187, the Dublin crowd was ecstatic. The finish came with just seconds left in the first round, and McGregor bounded into the cage to embrace Ward in a moment of celebration.
Referee Marc Goddard took notice, and attempted to remove McGregor from the cage. McGregor responded by shoving the official, and footage also indicates he slapped another Bellator official on his way out.
Andy Ryan, the head coach of Redmond’s team (Team Ryano) had the perfect vantage point to see the controversial situation unfold. According to Ryan, event security should’ve stopped McGregor from getting to the cage in the first place.
Ryan noted that Conor was standing behind them, but that he wasn’t interfering with their cornering obligations in any way. He also noted there was no event security around him at the time.
McGregor has become an international superstar in recent years, capturing UFC titles in two different divisions. Not only did he become the third man to accomplish the feat (with Georges St.-Pierre recently becoming the fourth), McGregor accomplished a first as he held the two belts simultaneously.
McGregor also accomplished another first when he faced boxing great Floyd Mayweather in a cross-promotional boxing match. Though he came up on the losing end against the much more experienced Mayweather, the bout served to elevate McGregor’s star power (and his bank balance) significantly.
Speculation has emerged that Bellator was excited to have a star like McGregor at their event, and that they may not have thought ahead about controversial situations that could emerge. The confusion may have stemmed from the fact that the referee was checking with commission officials due to the bout’s down-to-the-wire conclusion. When he turned to restore order, McGregor was already in the cage.
McGregor commented on the situation, but offered little in the way of apologies. “Bloke KO’d on floor bout a minute straight and ref trying to say fights not over Conor. That’s when I lost it. F— yous all.”
This isn’t the first time McGregor has been involved in controversial altercations. During the press conference for a bout with Nate Diaz, the two fighters launched water bottles at one another from across a room with press members and spectators present.
He also touched Mayweather during the press conference leading up to their fight, though he got little in the way of a reaction. The UFC has not commented on the situation, and it is uncertain whether McGregor will face punishment for his actions.