You’ve probably seen the headlines, and you’ve probably seen the crazy footage in your Twitter feed. But just what on earth is going on with the MMA fighter?
Conor McGregor, scary tattooed irishman and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter has been charged with three counts of assault and one of criminal mischief by the NYPD following an incident at a UFC media day which was promoting UFC 223 - a fight event due to take place this Saturday (7 April) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
He will see a judge after 7am local time (12pm BST) where he will learn his immediate fate.
What actually happened?
The incident happened at the Barclays Center and saw the Irish fighter, along with a group of other burly men, vandalise a bus containing rival fighters. He then handed himself into police at 9pm local time on Thursday.
Footage shows McGregor throwing a trolley at the bus, and smashing a window, before further fights break out.
The UFC says that two fighters were injured and have been withdrawn from the undercard for Saturday’s event. Lightweight Michael Chiesa received several facial cuts, while flyweight Ray Borg suffered an eye injury. Meanwhile, Artem Lobov, who was due to fight Alex Caceres, has also been removed from the bill, due to his alleged involvement in the attack.
McGregor was, apparently, attempting to confront long-term rival Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was involved in a minor altercation with one of his training partners earlier this week.
If you haven’t seen the video, you want to watch the video don’t you? We know you’re here for the video. Of course you are.
Here are two videos of the incident - one filmed from outside the bus, and one from inside.
So what’s the background of the beef?
McGregor is the biggest star in the history of UFC, becoming the first man to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes and being probably the only fighter who the general public would be aware of. Unless you’re British and remember Alex Reid from that time he went out with Katie Price. However, he (Conor, not Alex) hasn’t actually fought in UFC since November 2016, choosing instead to fight Floyd Mayweather in a much-publicised boxing match in August 2017.
McGregor impressed many by acquitting himself well in the match, despite never having boxed before, but the unbeaten Mayweather was never in any serious trouble, eventually winning by technical knockout in the tenth round. However, both men were winners, with the fight attracting the second highest pay-per-view buy rate in history. Mayweather reportedly pocketed $300m, while McGregor walked away with a cool $100m, his fame increased, and his reputation enhanced. But also, way, way richer, did we mention that part?
Since then, UFC president Dana White - the Don King/Bernie Ecclestone of UFC - has been insisting that McGregor would return to UFC after his dalliance away, but it hasn’t yet transpired - and this week he was stripped of the 155-pound championship, having never defended it. Which, controversial as it seems… is pretty fair.
OK, but was this ‘bus smashing’ just a PR stunt?
The obvious conclusion is to think that it is. The video footage has more than a whiff of the orchestrated antics of WWE, from the use of a trolley, to the way the people inside the bus talk, to the way the glass shatters to the way it was all conveniently filmed.
If it is a PR stunt, it’s worked - millions of people across the globe will have been googling ‘UFC’ and ‘Conor McGregor’ - and you’re reading this aren’t you? Suddenly, an event on Saturday has attracted a whole load of attention, and there’ll undoubtedly be speculation as to whether there’ll be further incident inside the Barclays Center on fight night.
Early speculation suggests that it’s unlikely that McGregor will receive anything more serious than a slap on the wrist from the police. Which is good to know for the next time you throw a trolley through a rival’s window.
But what if it’s not?
The language used by UFC and Dana White in the aftermath of the incident is unusually strong, suggesting that this may not be the setup that many people are saying.
The UFC issued a statement saying: “The organisation deems today’s disruption completely unacceptable and is currently working on the consequences that will follow.”
Meanwhile, Dana White condemned McGregor’s behavior, saying: “This is the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company, and there is a warrant out for McGregor’s arrest. The police are looking for him right now. His plane cannot take off, he cannot leave the state of New York with this warrant. He’ll be grounded, and I’m assuming eventually if they don’t catch him, he’ll turn himself in. You can imagine he’s going to be sued beyond belief and this was a real bad career move for him.”
Meanwhile, popular lightweight Michael Chiesa, who was standing directly next to the window that was struck, suffered cuts to his face and upper body and seemed genuinely upset to be pulled from Saturday’s line-up.
He tweeted: “I’m devastated to say the least. Anthony, I hope to run this match up ASAP. June 9th in your backyard. That’s all I have to say for now. Much love.”
McGregor revels in being the bad boy of UFC, but is this behaviour a step too far, even for him? Or is it simply a way of upping the ante; a nadir before a lucrative UFC redemption?
We shall find out in due course.