Andre FIli was in top position on the ground against Artem Lobov in the second round of their fight when referee Marc Goddard paused the action briefly.
Goddard walked over to the cage and told Conor McGregor, MMA’s biggest star and Lobov’s longtime teammate, to leave the area. McGregor, who was not a licensed corner, was shouting directions to Lobov outside the Octagon near where the action was taking place Saturday at UFC Gdansk in Poland.
“The reason I interjected is because Artem gets a fourth cornerman cage side giving instruction,” Goddard told MMA Fighting. “That’s not allowed. Imagine had Conor talked him through a fight-ending sequence. Then what?”
McGregor was stalking around the Octagon throughout the fight, which Fili ended up winning by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). It was outside the bounds of what someone who has a seat in the crowd should be doing with regards to trying to affect the fight, according to Goddard.
“Conor was basically acting like a fourth cornerman,” Goddard said. “Walking around the cage side wherever and whenever he wanted. When Fili took down Artem, Conor was right there. That’s simply not fair and not allowed. I won’t have it. He can’t do as he pleases.”
Fili (17-5) has now won two of three fights in the UFC. Lobov (13-14-1, 1 NC), who trains out of SBG Ireland with McGregor, has lost two straight.
Goddard said he couldn’t play favorites just because it was McGregor, the UFC’s golden boy.
“If Conor had stood up, stayed at his seat, then he could have shouted till his hearts content,” Goddard said. “That’s what he’s supposed to do. But what he simply cannot do, what he is not allowed to do, is approach the cage at any point and as I say act as the fourth corner. That’s unfair and unjust. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’ve done this forever, in any country in any situation. My integrity is not wavered and neither is the rules. We can’t allow that. I simply had to act.”
McGregor has not been to a UFC fight in quite a while. The UFC lightweight champion spent the summer training for a boxing match against all-time great Floyd Mayweather. McGregor ended up falling to Mayweather by 10th-round TKO.
It’s unclear what is next for McGregor in MMA, though he is the the biggest drawing card in the sport right now by far. “The Notorious” could unify the lightweight title with interim champion Tony Ferguson, but there are other options on the table for him, including a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz.