ABC president Mike Mazzulli told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that the UFC was taking Conor McGregor off the UFC 219 card, as a result of McGregor’s conduct at Bellator 187 last Friday.
Mazzulli said he spoke with a UFC official about the situation two hours after McGregor stormed the cage to wildly celebrate with his teammate Charlie Ward after Ward’s TKO victory over John Redmond in Dublin, Ireland. While in the cage, McGregor shoved referee Marc Goddard and, after being escorted out of the cage because he wasn’t a licensed cornerman, slapped a Bellator employee while trying to climb back in.
Mazzulli, the Mohegan Sun Department of Athletic Regulation director who was the lead regulator for the Bellator card, did not say who he spoke to from the UFC. But he was confident the UFC has already taken action against McGregor by not allowing him to compete on the Dec. 30 card in Las Vegas.
“They already sanctioned him,” Mazzulli said. “So they did hit him. He’s not gonna be making any more money this year and I commend UFC for that. I really do.”
However, McGregor was never officially scheduled to fight at UFC 219. And McGregor’s agent Audie Attar told MMA Fighting on Monday that what Mazzulli said was “not true.” Attar did not respond to further questions on whether or not McGregor was ever planned to compete on the year-end card.
A request to the UFC from MMA Fighting was not returned Monday evening.
Mazzulli said he has been in contact with the commissions that have recently licensed McGregor — Nevada and New York — about potential sanctions for his behavior. It’s unlikely that McGregor is still licensed in New York, because he competed at UFC 205 against Eddie Alvarez more than one year ago. But McGregor definitely does have a boxing license in Nevada, courtesy of his matchup against Floyd Mayweather in August.
McGregor is not licensed by Mohegan Sun, but Mazzulli said he will contact his commission’s lawyers about any action that can be taken regarding discipline for McGregor’s actions.
If McGregor were a Mohegan licensee, Mazzulli said there would certainly be a sanction.
“I would suspend him indefinitely and i would require him to come to a hearing and defend himself,” Mazzulli said. “Again, I go back to the safety of the fighter. At the end of the day, Mr. Redmond was down, he was unconscious, he was dizzy and we were unable to provide medical attention to him, because [McGregor] had to dance around that cage and push Mr. Goddard — assault Mr. Goddard, as well as one of the Bellator employees. That’s completely unacceptable. I wouldn’t even allow somebody in the audience to do that.”
There was confusion in the bout between Ward and Redmond over whether the round had ended before a TKO was called. McGregor jumped into the cage and seemed to be arguing with Goddard that Ward should be the rightful winner by TKO. The fight was indeed ruled a TKO at 4:59 of the first round. Redmond told MMA Fighting that he believes McGregor influenced the result of the bout.
Either way, Mazzulli said, it doesn’t matter. McGregor should not have been in there in the first place.
“To me, that’s irrelevant,” Mazzulli said. “The relevant thing is Mr. McGregor took it upon himself to jump in the cage. That adversely affected the fight. Mr. Redmond was injured. He actually made it difficult for the doctors to get in there and actually administer some medical attention. At that point, I wanted to make sure Mr. Redmond was safe and I wanted to clear the cage and then we would address what was occurring with the time.”
Along with just being in the cage when he wasn’t supposed to be, Mazzulli said there is no excuse for McGregor to shove Goddard and then slap a Bellator employee as he was trying to climb over the cage for a second time.
“There’s a zero tolerance for that,” Mazzulli said. “That’s why I said when you are a professional at that level, you have to handle yourself as a professional. There’s a lot of people that are looking up to you and respecting you as an individual, as a fighter. Don’t get me wrong, Conor McGregor is a great, great fighter. I’ve watched every single fight of his and that’s what I do, this is my job. But when it comes to what he did to Mr. Goddard and [Bellator employee] Michael Johnson, what would possess somebody to do that? Like I said, if it was at Mohegan, I guarantee you that the Mohegan Tribe Police Department would be removing Mr. Conor. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Mazzulli said he is not sure what the commissions in Nevada or New York will do and he appreciates that the UFC told him McGregor would not fight again this year. He said in a week and a half, he will have information about what he can do at Mohegan Sun as far as a punishment.
“Mr. McGregor is not bigger than MMA,” Mazzulli said. “We all know that. Mr. McGregor may not be around in five years, but MMA will still be. I think that is very important to understand, that fighter safety is the most important thing in the world. Because without fighter safety, this sport would not proceed to the next level like it always has.”
Mazzulli was cage side for the fight in Dublin and is now in Israel as the lead regulator for Bellator 188 this coming weekend in Tel Aviv. He has been regulating combat sports for 21 years and was in the room when the Unified Rules of MMA were written in 2001. The situation in Dublin, he said, was unfortunate, no matter who the person was who did it.
“First of all, I’m never comfortable when somebody takes it upon himself to act like a 5-year-old and jump in the cage,” Mazzulli said. “The bottom line is he was unprofessional, he was disrespectful and it was not acceptable in my eyes. In any situation. I don’t care if it’s anybody else jumping in the cage. We don’t do that as a professional.”