Conor McGregor can influence change if he truly cares about fighter safety
Conor McGregor can influence change if he truly cares about fighter safety:-Conor McGregor is one of the few fighters who has the power to enact positive change in mixed martial arts. If McGregor believes that a rule change is required to make the sport safer for the competitors, a few public comments from him will go a long way toward making that happen.
Jumping over the top of the cage, shoving a referee and going on a wild rant at a show in which he’s not competing or licensed as a cornerman is just about guaranteed to make others view him as an entitled rich guy and pay him little heed. McGregor is an astute man but he didn’t present himself that way at Bellator 187 on Friday in Dublin.
McGregor’s friend and training partner, Charlie Ward, defeated John Redmond at 4:59 of the first round. But McGregor leaped over the cage, slapped a Bellator employee and shoved referee Marc Goddard.
The UFC lightweight champion apologized via Instagram on Tuesday, and alluded to the April 11, 2016, death of Joao Carvalho as a way to explain his wild reaction.
Carvalho died two days after a fight with Ward in Dublin. McGregor was clearly impacted by Carvalho’s death and made a lengthy statement on Facebook lamenting his passing, as well as talking about it in interviews.
In his apology Tuesday, McGregor wrote that the memory of Carvalho’s death 19 months earlier played a role in his reaction.
“The referee Marc Godard [sic] was making a horrendous decision in trying to pick an unconscious fighter up off the floor and force the fight to continue into the second round,” McGregor wrote. “Even against the wishes of the said fighters coach. The fight was over. After witnessing my fighter in a fight where the worst happened and the opponent passed away from his injuries on the night, I thought the worst was about to happen again, and I lost it and over reacted. I am sorry to everyone.”
Watching an athlete die as a result of injuries suffered in the cage or the ring is about the worst thing imaginable. I’ve been ringside for seven fighter deaths – all in boxing – and each is worse and more difficult to understand than the last.
One of them will forever stick out in my mind. On July 1, 2005, in a ballroom at The Orleans Casino in Las Vegas, Martin Sanchez fought Rustam Nugaev. Nugaev was getting the better of the fight, but it certainly was not the type of bout that was so brutal that you worried about the safety of the fighter.
In the ninth round, Nugaev and Sanchez were fighting on the opposite side of the ring from where I was seated at a table against the ring. Nugaev landed a clean right. Sanchez staggered back, went down and rolled under the ropes.
He was about to fall on the table that I was seated at next to a local radio broadcaster, Dave Cokin. Cokin and I reached up and prevented Sanchez from falling to the floor. He rolled back under the ropes and then took a knee in the corner, as referee Kenny Bayless gave him the 10-count. Sanchez jumped up after Bayless said 10.
As Sanchez was about to head to the dressing room area, ring announcer Joe Martinez asked the crowd to give him a hand for a good fight. Standing on the top step outside the ropes, Sanchez blew kisses to the crowd. He then turned and pointed at Cokin and I and gave us a thumbs up, a silent thank you for helping him to avoid crashing to the floor.
I left and thought little more of it, until receiving a call the next morning informing me of Sanchez’s death. He suffered a subdural hematoma in the locker room and underwent emergency surgery, but he lost his life.
That death had an impact upon me that is felt to this day, so it’s understandable how Carvalho’s passing impacted McGregor.
But charging into a cage he has no business in isn’t the way to handle things. Even if McGregor had not been concerned and just jumped into the cage to celebrate a win with Ward, it was inappropriate.