MMA’s biggest draw is back in the headlines, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons.
With UFC 223 just days away and the world waiting to see who will become the undisputed lightweight champion, all eyes were on unbeaten challenger Khabib Nurmagomedov and featherweight champion Max Holloway.
But McGregor has been a lingering factor in the 155-pound title picture for a long time. Ever since winning the title from Eddie Alvarez in late 2016, McGregor has yet to defend his belt. With UFC president Dana White remaining adamant that McGregor would be stripped to not hold up the division, tensions were running high.
He gave an emphatic statement on Twitter, saying: “You’s’ll (sic) strip me of nothing you’s do nothing c****s.”
The hesitance of White to strip McGregor’s title may have come from the bad luck associated with the original bout. Interim champion Tony Ferguson has now been booked four times to face Khabib Nurmagomedov, with as many attempts falling through. White knew there was a chance of the fight not happening, and he played things right.
However, he has also said that as soon as the first punch is thrown in the headliner at UFC 223, the undisputed title will be on the line. Contrary to a previous report, Ferguson will not be stripped and will remain the number one contender.
There’s no indication whether the title situation or simply a desire for attention caused McGregor and his entourage to storm the Barclays Center after the UFC 223 media day – but the chaotic situation has the MMA world shook.
McGregor and the men with him attacked a van full of fighters that was leaving the arena. The van reportedly had Khabib Nurmagomedov and his team inside. This is the second altercation Nurmagomedov has been involved with during fight week, the first being a confrontation with McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov in a hotel.
McGregor was seen ordering someone to get out of the van shortly before being forced to leave by security. Fighter Michael Chiesa, who was scheduled to face Anthony Pettis on the 223 card, suffered a laceration leaving his immediate future unclear.
This isn’t the first time McGregor has caused a stir outside of competition at an MMA event. He was chastised for jumping into the cage at a Bellator MMA event after he believed his teammate had won. He eventually apologized for that incident.
He also had an altercation with Nate Diaz and Diaz’s entourage during a media segment in which McGregor lobbed water bottles at his adversary and dodged return fire.
McGregor’s latest outburst could cost him – White said McGregor was planning a return to the Octagon around September, but a warrant may have already been issued for his arrest.
No reports have surfaced as to whether McGregor’s connection to Lobov prompted the skirmish, or whether the long-teased rivalry between McGregor and Nurmagomedov himself has finally boiled over. In any case, it adds another layer of complexity to the already chaotic fight week.