Andy Ryan had a front row seat to all of the madness that unfolded with Conor McGregor at Bellator 187 in Dublin on Friday night.
Ryan, head coach of Team Ryano, was cornering John Redmond who was knocked out in the final second of the first round by Charlie Ward, which prompted Conor McGregor to storm the cage in celebration.
Footage revealed that McGregor shoved referee Marc Goddard and slapped a Bellator official after he emerged in the cage.
According to Ryan, event security at the arena did little to stop McGregor because the promotion wanted the Irish superstar to be featured on the broadcast of the event.
“That’s Conor’s good friend in there that has won, so of course emotions are going to be running high. For me, I think the promotion should have Conor and his guests in a better position,” explained Ryan.
“Conor was standing directly behind us. He wasn’t interfering with our cornering or anything like that, but there was no event security around him whatsoever apart from the people that he had with him.
“I think it meant a lot for them to have him at their show, and they didn’t think about what would happen if things boiled over.
“A fan jumped into the cage during the last fight of the night and the security dealt with the situation straight away. They weren’t treating Conor like anyone else that jumped in the cage and that’s probably why things were able escalate to the level that it did.”
Ryan recalled what happened on Friday night, and claimed that he had to act as security as more fans tried to follow McGregor into the cage.
“The 10-second warning went off and me and John Donnelly were making our way towards the cage. I didn’t see John (Redmond) getting hit, but then I obviously saw the aftermath,” he remembered.
“After Conor jumped into the cage, I had to start doing security on the cage door myself because a load of fans were trying to run in with him.”
The Team Ryano boss believes things took a turn for the worse when Goddard explained that he had yet to stop the fight, having not been given adequate time to communicate with the commission due to the chaos in the cage.
“With all this going on, Marc Goddard hadn’t got a chance to talk to the commission to see what was happening. He had jumped in just before the round ended, and with everything that was going on, he hadn’t got time to establish whether the fight had been brought to an end yet,” said Ryan.
“He was trying to get some order back in the cage and that’s why he said, ‘the fight’s not over, lads, you’re going to have to leave the cage.’
“That’s when all the mayhem happened. I think Conor thought the fight was going to continue and that’s when he went over to him and had words.”
Again, Ryan stressed how poorly both McGregor’s security and the event security dealt with the situation.
“What annoyed me was, Conor has his own security there, there was event security there, and they didn’t seem to have a grip on the situation at all. John Redmond nearly got trampled on.
“I honestly feel like the promotion and the commission need to take some of the blame here because they were more interested in trying not to upset Conor than looking after John Redmond.
“John missed out on some attention that he needed because the event security didn’t have a handle on the situation.”
Some fans think that McGregor launched a tirade in the direction of Ryan, but the decorated judo and jiu-jitsu player said that “The Notorious” told both he and Redmond that he respected them during his time in the cage.
“There is no disrespect here between our team and Conor’s team. Honestly, he came over and he told both me and John that he respected us. The only thing he said was, ‘Come on, Andy, John was out.’
“I agreed with him. Even if the fight had been allowed to continue we were going to wave it off. Marc Goddard came over and he said that the fight was still on, but we had already made the decision. I didn’t see the punch, but I could see how disoriented John Redmond was so I wasn’t going to allow him to continue.
“I wasn’t worried about what was going on inside the cage, I was worried about everything else. There was a lot of drink taken in the arena, and I was just afraid all hell was going to break lose.”
Ryan is one of the founding fathers of Irish MMA and spoke about the impact the incident will have on the sport’s push for national regulation. Ryan believes the fracas highlighted why the sport needs recognition in Ireland.
“The problem in Ireland is that people only know Conor McGregor and the UFC, they don’t look beyond that and see the amateur scene and the dedicated professionals that are trying to make it to the big stage,” he said.
“I just think the promotions wanted that. They wanted that big WWE scene in the cage. Irish MMA doesn’t want that, but the promotions certainly do.
“I think everyone knows Conor shouldn’t have done what he did, but what can you do? The real problem is that the sport doesn’t have proper recognition in the country so there is no way to put safeguards in place to make sure these things don’t happen.”
Although he thinks that Redmond was clearly out of the fight on Friday night, Ryan believes he and Ward should fight again given the controversy that surrounds the end of the contest.
“I think it’s left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Nobody in Ireland wanted to see this happen, and I know if the two lads went in there again they could show everyone how it was meant to go down,” he said.
“I think they both looked a lot better than they have previously, and I think with all the confusion after the knockdown, it’s probably the right thing to do.”