The UFC is in a precarious position, now having to determine if superstar Conor McGregor is still worth the trouble he’s causing.
McGregor, a two-division champion, continued his tour of self-destruction and terror with a pair of horrifying incidents over the last month. On June 10, McGregor lost control during a halftime skit at the NBA Finals, hospitalizing the Miami Heat’s mascot after forgetting to pull his punches. Ironically, McGregor used the bit to promote his cryotherapy pain relief spray, which he suddenly remembered to spray on the mascot AFTER he incapacitated him.
Bad went to worse less than a week later. On June 14, McGregor was accused of raping an unknown female the same night he punched out the Heat’s mascot. While the case is emerging, so too is video footage of McGregor with the person in question, leading her into the bathroom where the alleged assault occurred.
While McGregor is innocent until proven guilty, his quest to live up to his “Notorious” moniker needs to be one he walks alone.
That simply means the UFC needs to cut him loose and let the chips fall where they may.
In practice, this should be an easy move for the UFC to make.
McGregor has been a part-time fighter since spurning the promotion in 2017 to fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match. Though it was a huge event for all parties involved, it forever changed McGregor and the UFC’s relationship.
He’s fought sparingly since then, going 1-3 in the process. When he hasn’t been fighting, McGregor has kept himself busy being a menace.
Between 2016 and now, McGregor’s misconduct outside the octagon has become a regular occurrence:
- November 2017: McGregor enters the ring following teammate Charles Wards’ victory, though not identified as a cornerman. He causes a melee, charging referee Marc Goddard and slapping a state athletic commissioner.
- April 2018: McGregor and a posse confront Khabib Nurmagomedov, throwing a metal dolly on the bus and injuring several fighters. McGregor pleads no contest to charges of disorderly conduct as a result of this incident.
- October 2018: McGregor is defeated by Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, and both men incite a riot inside the octagon. For his part in the scuffle, McGregor is suspended for six months by the Nevada State Atheltic Commission and fined $50,000.
- March 2019: McGregor is under investigation for a sexual assault that occurred in Dublin, Ireland. Later that month, McGregor was charged with strong-arm robbery and criminal mischief after assaulting a fan who took a picture of him.
- August 2019: McGregor is charged with assault after striking an elderly man who refused a drink of whiskey in a pub. McGregor pleads guilty three months later.
- September 2021: McGregor and recording artist Machine Gun Kelly nearly come to blows on the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards.
- October 2021: McGregor attacks Italian DJ Francesco Facchinetti at an Italian nightclub.
- January 2023: McGregor was accused of physically assaulting a woman on his yacht in Ibiza in 2022. Though a civil suit was filed against McGregor, the lawsuit was dropped by the plaintiff one month later.
The UFC needs to sever ties with Conor McGregor
Basically, McGregor is a liability when he isn’t in the octagon. His behavior is unbecoming of any professional organization, even if he is valued as a commodity. While it is true of any combat sport that there are very few stars that captivate the casual audience, the UFC cannot turn a blind eye to his antics anymore.
At the same time, there is no better time for them to cut McGregor loose and move on than now. Many UFC fighters have been let go for less.
While he does remain one of the most popular competitors on their roster, his influence is waning due to his inactivity and diminished performances.
McGregor’s latest appearance as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter is drawing fewer viewers than his last appearance during his prime. Even with a potential dream match with Michael Chandler being teased in the background, fans are not as interested as the UFC would have hoped.
On that same note, McGregor has yet to enter USADA testing protocols. The anti-doping agency and McGregor have been at odds over his in-ring return. McGregor’s attempts to receive an exemption have failed, and his continued delay to enter their protocols is likely to further delay the Chandler fight.
UFC President Dana White is not likely to quit McGregor. While he has cut fighters permanently in the past, none have carried the significance or popularity as McGregor. As bad as it is, the UFC is ultimately going to be ambivalent about the situation until McGregor ends up in prison.
The right move would be for the UFC to fulfill all their obligations to McGregor, which would mean paying him out for his time on The Ultimate Fighter and any other deals prior to a release. Any release would result in a six-month non-compete clause to ensure McGregor doesn’t continue his career in Bellator, ONE Championship, or PFL as they would be sure to pursue him.
After that, the shell of McGregor can continue to compete 3-4 years after his last performance. The shell of a 35-year-old McGregor may still draw, but his best days will surely be in the rearview mirror, and many will have tired of his antics sure to occur in the interim.
However, it wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest the UFC would stand by a fighter whose best punch he’s landed in six years was wasted on a man in a camel suit.