Conor McGregor’s shocking dolly-based attack on a bus full of fighters, ahead of UFC 223 in New York City earlier this year, left behind an unexpected series of long-term repercussions. The most notable of these played out at UFC 229, back in October, when McGregor finally got the chance to confront the object of his ire, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The two men met in the Octagon for what would become the highest selling UFC PPV of all time. And while Khabib would take a clear victory, behind a 4th round submission, the overflowing emotions sparked during that UFC 223 fight week resulted in a brawl between fighters and teammates that spilled over into the arena crowd. Nurmagomedov and McGregor are still awaiting final word on their suspensions from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
But, between the battle between clear aggressors were a number of innocent bystanders. Fighters that just happened to be sharing that bus with the ‘Eagle’ when that hand truck came crashing through the window. Ray Borg ended up with glass particles in his eyes, cancelling his fight with Brandon Moreno. Through a variety of other difficult family circumstances, he has yet to return to competition. Rose Namajunas went on to face Joanna Jedrzejczyk that night – defeating her by decision – but the emotional distress suffered from the attack has apparently lingered, and she too has not fought since.
And then there’s Michael Chiesa. ‘Maverick’ had been set to face Anthony Pettis at UFC 223. The fight was cancelled, however, due to cuts suffered to Chiesa’s face as a direct result of the attack. In September, Chiesa became the first of the fighters injured that day to sue McGregor — claiming emotional distress and loss of economic opportunity. Most notably, he believes he would have been in position to take the last minute lightweight title fight opportunity that ended up going to Al Iaquinta at UFC 223, after Max Holloway failed in his bid to make 155 lbs.
On Friday, November 30th, James M. Catterson, an attorney representing Conor McGregor, looked to dismiss core components of Chiesa’s claims against the UFC superstar with a motion filed in the New York State Supreme Court, Kings County. Most notably, McGregor’s team is targeting the Sik Jitsu & Team Alpha Male talent’s claims of “emotional distress” and that McGergor’s behavior could be considered “outrageous” (h/t MMA Fighting).
“While the conduct alleged in the complaint is unquestionably inappropriate, it does not approach the rigorous standard of outrageousness as defined by New York courts,” Catterson wrote, “therefore further supporting the dismissal of the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.”
“Chiesa, a seasoned combat sports fighter, fails to plead any allegations containing even a scintilla of factual specificity regarding the alleged emotional distress,” Catterson wrote. “The two emotional distress causes of action allege only that Defendants ‘caused severe emotion distress, mental trauma, and/or bodily harm to the plaintiff.’
“The complaint contains no other information supporting these alleged emotional injuries. These boilerplate, unsubstantiated allegations do not adequately plead a claim for emotional distress, and therefore Chiesa’s intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims must be dismissed.”
Past court cases in New York concerning emotional distress have noted that “outrageous conduct” is an especially difficult circumstance to meet. Adding that “Liability has been found only where the conduct has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
Whether or not McGregor’s conduct meets those standards remains to be seen. But if not, it would likely remove a key component of Chiesa’s case against the UFC superstar.
McGregor is due to face his NSAC related legal troubles on Monday, December 10th alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov. There it’s hoped that the two men will both get the final verdict on their suspensions over their UFC 229 post-fight brawl.