As the dust has begun to settle following Conor McGregor’s bus attack at a UFC media event yesterday, it’s clear that UFC 223 is more or less ruined. McGregor has been charged with three misdemeanors and one criminal count of criminal mischief, and after spending the night in jail, he faces arraignment in a Brooklyn court today. It seems as if he’ll be allowed to leave police custody on his own, and will likely be able to leave the country this afternoon. It may have seemed like a work at first, but he is facing real-world consequences, not to mention possible punishment from the UFC. So why did he go nuts?
While McGregor is to be stripped of his lightweight championship belt before this weekend’s headlining fight, that’s not why he attacked probable future belt-holder Khabib Nurmagomedov’s bus. McGregor was in town to support his teammate Artem Lobov, who he began training with in Ireland before he ever signed with the UFC. Lobov is also a good enough boxer that he’s entertained moving from MMA to professional boxing at some point, and he helped train McGregor for his fight with Floyd Mayweather this summer.
The day before McGregor and his goons made their ambush, Lobov got into it with Nurmagomedov in the hallway of their hotel. It’s not clear why they started beefing, though odds are it has something to do with the constant stream of shit Nurmagomedov has been talking about McGregor.
Dana White went on Fox Sports this morning and said he spoke with McGregor right before the incident. White said, “It’s not that I don’t think he understood what happened. It’s just that he justified it. It was justified to him. ‘I’m sorry about Mike. I’m sorry about Rose, and whoever else, but this had to be done.’ They feel like these guys attacked his friend and this needs to be done.”
The latest from Brooklyn has McGregor likely cleared to leave the country today.
Meanwhile, the UFC event he came to watch has been left in tatters. Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg will no longer fight Anthony Pettis and Brandon Moreno respectively after getting showered in broken glass, and Lobov has been yanked off the card for participating in said glass showering. The three fracas-related cancellations are only part of the story, however, as there’s a whole bunch of bog-standard MMA nonsense harming this card too.
Tony Ferguson was knocked out of his headlining lightweight title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov after tripping on a cord and tearing his knee, and his replacement Max Holloway was always facing an uphill battle to even make his 155-pound debut, which will no longer happen this weekend. Holloway faced a ludicrous 26-pound weight cut in under a week, and the New York State Athletic Commission deemed him medically unfit to compete. He apparently wanted to “keep pushing” his body past the point of safety and was “close” to 155 as weigh-ins approached this morning, but the NYSAC put a stop to it.
One might think that Chiesa’s face lacerations present the smallest silver lining here, since that now frees up Anthony Pettis to fight Nurmagomedov. After all, Pettis is a former lightweight champion, and he was all geared up to fight at 155 tomorrow anyway. Instead, he weighed in at 155.2 pounds, 0.2 pounds over the championship weight limit. His team was pushing for the title fight against Nurmagomedov, but NYSAC officials walked away with a scale and Pettis did not weigh in again. NYSAC cleared him for a three-round non-title fight against Nurmagomedov, but the Dagestani wrestler wants a title fight, so Pettis’s status is currently in flux.
The good news: There’s another 155-pound fight this weekend! The bad news: It’s, uh, apparently not ranked highly enough? Unranked dudes Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder were (are?) scheduled to fight this weekend, and after Felder weighed in at 155.0, he asked for the title fight. The UFC apparently approved the fight, since, sure, at least they’d get to show two title fights and keep Nurmagomedov in the octagon. But NYSAC blocked it, on the grounds that Felder was ranked too low in the UFC’s rather arbitrary rankings.
Iaquinta is ranked 11th, which now makes him the frontrunner to fight Nurmagomedov. Problem is, he too weighed in at 155.2. It doesn’t appear he’ll get another chance to weigh in, so Nurmagomedov will likely not get a shot at the belt, and it’s unclear whether he’ll fight at all.
So, to sum up: Nobody knows who is fighting Nurmagomedov, if he fights at all. The card has been ransacked. McGregor is free. What a goddamn mess.
Calvin Kattar’s fight should be good though!
Update (5:37 p.m. ET): It’s Iaquinta! Though only Nurmagomedov can win a title.