Association of Boxing Commissions President Mike Mazzulli is currently evaluating his legal options for how to handle the cage-hopping incident involving Conor McGregor at this past Friday’s Bellator 187.
In the meantime, Mazzulli has been assured the UFC is taking action against the UFC lightweight champ. Two hours after McGregor jumped the fence, inciting a brief melee at 3Arena in Dublin, the regulator said a UFC executive called to tell him McGregor’s actions were “totally unacceptable.”
More serious, Mazzulli said, the executive claimed the UFC champ has been removed from a scheduled spot at UFC 219, which is set for Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Mr. McGregor was planned for Dec. 30 card, but he will not be fighting,” Mazzulli today told MMAjunkie.
Multiple requests for comment from the UFC to verify Mazzulli’s account were not immediately returned. Officially, McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) remains unscheduled pending negotiations for his next fight.
This past Friday’s incident was touched off when longtime McGregor teammate Charlie Ward (4-3 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) dropped opponent John Redmond (7-13 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) with a hook late in the first round. Referee Marc Goddard stepped in and stopped the bout. McGregor then hopped the fence and tackled Ward in apparent celebration.
Goddard ordered McGregor out of the cage – the second time he’s had words with the Irish star over his cageside demeanor – only to have McGregor curse him out and shove him as officials tried to calm the situation.
McGregor then exited the cage, only to march back in after officials tried to usher him out. Then he hopped the cage once more, and when a Bellator employee named Michael Johnson tried to stop him, he appeared to reply with a slap to the face.
Unlicensed as a corner or fighter for the event, and unlicensed with the MTDAR, Mazzulli said McGregor was not subject to his authority as a regulator that night. McGregor could have been arrested by police, he added, but the fighter fled the arena before that was an option. The main concern was ensuring the safety of the fighters during the incident.
Mazzulli admits McGregor’s civilian status at Bellator 187 presents a challenge for administering any type of formal punishment. But he commends the UFC for taking the issue seriously.
“They’re basically going to sanction him on their end,” Mazzulli said. “I’m still waiting to hear what they plan on doing. My understanding is that he was scheduled to fight Dec. 30, and he will not be fighting this year. That’s one step. The second step is I reached out to the (commissions) that presently have him licensed. Of course, they’re fully aware of what he did.”
This past Friday’s incident quickly went viral, and Bellator highlighted McGregor’s cage-hop in promotions for the tape-delayed broadcast on Spike. Mazzulli issued a statement condemning McGregor’s behavior and communication with UFC officials over the matter. Goddard released his own statement and took the high road.
Early this morning on social media, McGregor posted a defiant message about his role in the incident before deleting his post.
“Bloke KO’d on floor bout a minute straight and ref trying to say fights not over Conor,” he wrote. “That’s when I lost it. F— yous all.”
McGregor is a licensed combatant in Nevada and New York, where his most recent fights have taken place. The commissions have not commented on the incident.
Mazzulli had been hired by Bellator to serve as the event’s regulator at 3Arena because there is no athletic commission with jurisdiction over MMA in Ireland. It’s a role comparable to UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs and former Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Marc Ratner for UFC events at which no official state oversight exists.
Mazzulli has overseen multiple overseas events for Bellator, as well as in the U.S., where he frequently works with tribal commissions in addition to his work with the MTDAR. On Friday, he will oversee Bellator 188 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
“My biggest concern is the fighter safety aspect of it,” Mazzulli said of the melee. “If that had occurred at Mohegan Sun, Mr. McGregor would have been removed and arrested. Fighter safety is No. 1 in my eyes, when I’m representing Mohegan, or representing Bellator.”
Mazzulli stressed that McGregor is not bigger than the sport of MMA and can’t be allowed to behave the way he did this past weekend. As for what can formally be done to deter future episodes, that will be determined shortly.
“I’m speaking to my legal team, but I do expect a sanction by the UFC, and I expect it to be a stiff one, too,” he said. “I don’t expect it to be a little slap on the wrist.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: ABC head expects UFC will sanction Conor McGregor for Bellator 187 cage jump – and says he's off UFC 219