Former UFC title contender and current Bellator star Chael Sonnen believes that Conor McGregor has fallen victim to his own ‘gimmick’
McGregor surprised those in attendance at Bellator 187 recently when he jumped the cage inside the 3 Arena in Dublin to congratulate teammate Charlie Ward on his victory over fellow Irishman Paul Redmond.
Later it was claimed that “The Notorious” may have influenced the result of the fight as referee Marc Goddard was trying to gather whether Redmond could continue. Officials called the fight as a stoppage, not long after the UFC lightweight champion had pursued Goddard and allegedly aimed threats at the Englishman before slapping a Bellator official in the face.
Mike Mazzulli, the president of the Association of Boxing Commissions, spoke to Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of the MMA Hour about the bizarre incident and claimed that the UFC had pulled McGregor from UFC 219 as a result:
“The bottom line is that he [McGregor] was unprofessional, disrespectful and it was not acceptable in my eyes in any situation. I don’t care if it was anyone else jumping in the cage, we don’t do that as a professional. McGregor is not bigger than MMA. I had executives from the UFC contact me within two hours after what occurred.”
According to Mazulli, the UFC have pulled McGregor from the UFC 219 card next month:
“They basically said to me that it’s completely unacceptable in their eyes, and they will be doing something. They did inform me that he was set to be on the December 30th card, and he will not be on it.”
Since then, things have been relatively quiet. McGregor tweeted and subsequently deleted a post claiming that he was in the right, concluding his message with a ‘f*ck you’s’ to those who criticized his behavior:
The 29-year-old then took to Instagram to deliver a more diplomatic apology:
“I sincerely apologize for my behavior at last weekends fight event in Dublin. While trying to support a loyal teammate and friend, I let my emotions get the best of me and acted out of line. As a multiple weight UFC champion, executive producer, role model and public figure, I must hold myself to a higher standard.
The referee Marc Godard was making a horrendous decision in trying to pick an unconscious fighter up off the floor and force the fight to continue into the second round. Even against the wishes of the said fighters coach. The fight was over.
After witnessing my fighter in a fight where the worst happened and the opponent passed away from his injuries on the night, I thought the worst was about to happen again, and I lost it and over reacted. I am sorry to everyone.
I sincerely apologize to the Director of the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli, all the officials and staff working the event, Andy Ryan and his fighter John, two stonch ones that put up a great fight every time. That side will always have my respect, and lastly every one of my fans. I love yous all!
I’ve always learned from my mistakes and this will be no different,” McGregor wrote.
Sonnen spoke about the incident not long after and claimed that McGregor’s erratic behavior would earn him at least some form of punishment:
“Who do you think was regulating the Bellator show in Ireland? Mike Mazzulli,” Sonnen explained. “The President of the ABC. If there is any executive director I would advise you to not piss off, it’s Mike Mazzulli.
“Being the President of the ABC, he doesn’t adopt rules that he doesn’t like. The whole reason he got elected is because he’s a rule guy. The whole reason the that the fellow executive directors said, ‘You’re the guy we want representing us’ is because he enforces the rules.”
While McGregor was never confirmed to fight at UFC 219, many have accepted that the UFC ‘pulling’ him from the card may be the last we have heard on the matter. There are still some questions left unanswred, however. For example, what was it that led to the Dubliner’s antics on the night? Some have claimed that it was alcohol or drugs which led to the wild behavior of the MMA superstar but Sonnen believes it is much deeper than that:
“He’s starting to mark out for his own gimmick,” Sonnen claimed. “As human beings, we are whoever we pretend to be. When you get these guys to adopt a character, over a small period of time, they become that person. We’ve seen this from the highest of levels.”
“This is a real thing,” Sonnen brought up examples from pro-wrestling such as the Ultimate Warrior, then spoke about people in Hollywood doing the same. “Actors do it all the time. The great actors become the characters they’re playing at that time, whether it’s a cowboy, it’s a bad guy — I’m watching Conor mark out for his own gimmick.”
Sonnen stated that there is still time for McGregor to turn things around and erase the boisterous behavior which has confused many of his fans:
“Hey Conor, you’re not really a creep, you just play one on TV! You’re not really a guy who’s out of your mind and can’t really keep your cool. You just play one on TV, then you go back to your real life, Dee and your baby, you go back to your gym and your teammates. But he’s starting to mark out for his own gimmick.”
“People were coming out saying ‘oh he’s on coke, that’s the only reason he would act that way. He was drunk and was on coke.’ I don’t think that’s right — he probably was drunk, that part was probably true.”
Check out the clip of Sonnen discussing McGregor’s behavior here: