From Plea Deal to Mega-Fight: The return of Conor ‘Notorious’ McGregor
From possibly seeing the inside of a jail cell, to stepping back inside the octagon, the last few weeks for Conor McGregor have been a whirlwind. Additionally, the last few weeks for the UFC have also been a whirlwind as their most popular star is set to fight for the first time in nearly two years. At the beginning of the month, UFC President Dana White announced that McGregor would return to take on the undefeated UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. And since that announcement, the entire sport of MMA has been turned upside down as “Notorious” is back.
The Man Himself
The Irish professional MMA fighter and boxer is a former Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight and lightweight champion. He’s also competed as welterweight in MMA, and light middleweight in boxing.
At UFC 194, he defeated José Aldo via knockout just 13 seconds into the first round, to win the UFC Featherweight Championship. This was the fastest victory in UFC title fight history. After he defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 for the UFC Lightweight Championship, McGregor became the first UFC fighter to hold two titles in two weight divisions at the same time.
On November 26, 2016, McGregor was stripped of the title of Featherweight Championship due to his inactivity in the division.
In early 2017, McGregor spent a lot of time campaigning for a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Despite Mayweather having retired in 2015, and the fact that McGregor had never boxed professional, Mayweather finally agreed. According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, regardless of the outcome, Mayweather was guaranteed a purse of $100 million and McGregor was guaranteed $30 million. That match finally took place on August 26, 2017, and it ended in the 10th round with a victory for Mayweather by TKO.
On April 7, 2018, McGregor was stripped of the Lightweight Championship, again due to inactivity.
Overall, McGregor is the biggest PPV draw in MMA history. He’s headlined four out of the six highest-selling UFC PPV events.
About The Infamous Bus Attack
The 29-year-old MMA fighter known as “Notorious” was involved in a backstage melee following a press conference prior to UFC223, and video footage captured him throwing a hand truck at a bus full of fighters. Dana White said that McGregor, and an entourage of 20 “hoodlums” who flew in from Ireland, attacked the bus looking for retaliation against Khabib, who had been in an altercation with McGregor’s training partner and friend, Artem Lobov. In a statement, UFC said,
“The group, which included McGregor and Lobov, vandalized the vehicle that contained a number of athletes competing at the event taking place this weekend. NYPD was immediately alerted and is currently in the process of investigating the situation. UFC is working very closely with the New York Athletic Commission, Barclays Center security, and law enforcement authorities…The organization deems today’s disruption completely unacceptable and is currently working on the consequences that will follow.”
Lobov was removed from that weekend’s UFC card and everyone else involved in the incident, including McGregor, were banned from attending the weigh-in and the event at Barclays Center.
McGregor hadn’t fought for UFC since November 2016, and was stripped of the 155-pound championship by UFC President Dana White following the incident.
What Sparked the Rampage?
Opinion is that McGregor was targeting Khabib, who was on the bus that McGregor attacked with a metal trolley on April 5th. A confrontation earlier in the week may have poured fuel on the fire between Khabib and McGregor’s training partner. Footage showed both Nurmagomedov, an MMA fighter from Russia, and McGregor’s training partner Artem Lobov feuding as they stalked through a hotel. Angry words in Russian were exchanged.
Lobov, who was born in Russia, now has Irish citizenship. While no one knows exactly what initiated the attack, chances are good it has something to do with what was said at the hotel. Over the following week, tweets were exchanged between McGregor and Khabib where the two fighters hurled insults and threats at each other, with the culmination being the attack on the bus.
McGregor Arrested and Charged
The incident occurred on a Friday night in Brooklyn, New York. An arrest warrant was later issued for the MMA champion, and his private jet was grounded by officials. McGregor handed himself in to police, and the next day, was charged with one count of criminal mischief and three counts of assault.
McGregor was charged with several felonies, which are considered serious crimes in the state of New York. These all carry potential penalties of a minimum of one year in prison. He was also charged with several misdemeanors, which are crimes for which someone can be sent to prison for one year or less.
McGregor Accepts a Plea Deal
Conor McGregor pleaded guilty on Thursday, July 26th to disorderly conduct as part of a plea deal with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to five days of community service. Furthermore, the UFC champion was ordered to attend one to three days of anger management training. He was also ordered to make restitution for damage to the bus. Those who were injured during the melee, UFC fighters Michael Cheese and Ray Borg, and UFC employee Jason Ledbetter, were granted orders of protection against McGregor.
Compared to the potential for some serious jail time, McGregor pled guilty to a violation, which isn’t considered a crime. This means he not only won’t have a criminal record, but he won’t have to do any jail time, either. Even more important, because his visa wasn’t affected, he can still travel to fights. As long as he stays out of trouble for one year, his record will be wiped. If he violates any of the terms of his plea deal, he could go to jail for up to 15 days. According to CBC Sports, prosecutors for the case said he has already paid for the repairs to the bus.
Outside the Brooklyn courthouse, after the plea, McGregor said,
“I just want to say I’m thankful to the DA and the judge for allowing me to move forward. I want to say to my friends, my family, my fans, thank you for the support.”
He then was rushed to a waiting SUV as dozens of reporters, photographers, and fans watched from behind a bike rack barricade.
Prosecutors said that the sentence will give McGregor time to “reflect on his conduct and give back to society.”
Cian Cowley, who was McGregor’s co-defendant in the case, was sentenced to three days of community service and anger management classes.
On July 27, UFC President Dana White said McGregor won’t suffer from any additional discipline from the UFC for his involvement in the bus attack that was directed at Khabib Nurmagomedov.
As for future civil litigations, McGregor might have a problem defending them, because he admitted guilt in the criminal case. The admission of guilt can be used against him in a civil case where the standard of proof is lower than that in a criminal case.
According to MMA Junkie, most fans think the plea deal is a joke. Most critics think he received what amounts to a slap on the wrist for his behavior, and the deal not only doesn’t give him a criminal record, he’s also free to travel for fights.
McGregor’s part in the rampage forced Ray Borg and Michael Chiesa off the card for UFC 223 because they were hit by shards go glass. MMA Junkie offered a poll on Twitter asking followers what they thought of the terms of the plea deal.
— MMAjunkie (@MMAjunkie) July 26, 2018
Fifty-two percent said the sentence was too light, 41 percent said it was just right, and seven percent said it was too harsh, if that’s even possible.
No Jail Equals Time to Fight
Once McGregor’s legal issues were cleared up, his contact talks with the UFC and a fight with Nurmagomedov moved rather quickly. The two men have disdain for each other and the UFC sees nothing, but PPV buys and sellouts. When the fight was announced, it lit up the entire sports world. In fact, major outlets like ESPN forgot that it was NFL preseason and late MLB-season as they jumped all over the return of McGregor and the massive fight.
In anticipation of McGregor’s return, UFC 229 tickets sold out within three minutes. Vegas got its big-time fight and the UFC got its sell out. Oh, and McGregor will get his money. But, who will get the win?
McGregor will attempt to take back the belt he lost in 2016. Since that time, he hasn’t stepped foot in the Octagon, but SBG Ireland’s James Gallagher said his time off has given him time to enhance his game. In an interview with MMAFighting.com, Gallagher said he has no doubt that McGregor will walk through Khabib:
“[Conor] looks better than ever. He’s got that fire back inside of him. When you’re on the top of the world like he’s been for so long, you need to chill out for a little bit to get that hunger back…While he’s been away, Khabib has been creating some hype and getting himself in a position to fight Conor. There are a lot of people who see Khabib as a serious threat, so I think that’s given Conor a push to step up and say, ‘Nah, mate, I’m the champ around here – you’re not on my level.’ I think Conor’s going to show Khabib who’s boss and put him back in his box.”
MMA fighters pick who will win UFC 229 main event
This upcoming fight has sparked debates among fans and fighters around the world. For starters, UFC legend GSP almost immediately weighed in on the fight. Not only did he give his opinion on who will win the fight, but GSP also stated that he wanted to take on the winner. He said that the odds are in Kabib’s favor to win.
In addition to GSP, Fabricio Werdum and Dustin Poirier both pick Nurmagomedov to win. Werdum, a former UFC heavyweight champ, was stated the following:
Poirier, who suffered a loss to McGregor roughly 4 years ago, stated that he believes Khabib will get the victory because of his wrestling and physicality. Another legend, Anderson Silva, likes both fighters, but he believes that Khabib is the best fighter today, according to Inquisitr:
“Khabib [Nurmagomedov] is a great fighter. I’m very impressed. Conor [McGregor] is a great fighter. Having a new generation of fighters, especially in the UFC … this is a huge company that’s worked for a long time to get the great fighters in the sport. I think Khabib is the best, here, in this moment.”
Even a rival promotion, Bellator, has fighters chiming in on this UFC 229 epic fight. Current bantamweight champ Darrion Caldwell is going against his contemporaries and taking McGregor:
“My prediction is Conor McGregor’s going to win. That’s just me. I’m not really biased against Khabib. I know Khabib, he does his thing, he has like 900 takedowns. He’s nice, he’s legit. But I feel like Conor’s got an It factor that Khabib probably does not have.”
The Current Betting UFC 229 Landscape
The MMA betting landscape has erupted over the scheduled UFC 229 main event fight between McGregor and Nurmagomedov. Sportsbooks are seeing lines move up and down, while bettors are pouring in from all over.
When I first detailed this announced fight, Conor opened at a +135 underdog and Khabib opened as a -155 underdog, according to BetOnline. Since then, the odds have moved in favor of Nurmagomedov as he’s now a -170 favorite and McGregor is now a +145 underdog. Furthermore, the Over/Under for total fight rounds is set at 2.5 with the Over being +105 and the Under being -135. I already detailed my thoughts on that UFC 229 Prop Bet.
With that in mind, there are still numerous prop bets out there that are worth taking a serious look at, if you are trying to maximize your UFC 229 wagers. I will continue to examine these prop bets as we get closer to the fight date.
As for now, one thing is clear, McGregor vs Nurmagomedov has drawn a lot of attention via the media, at the gate, on Social Media, and with sports bettors around the world.
Conor McGregor will challenge the UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 on October 6th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.