Conor McGregor’s had a busy week, mostly for the wrong reasons, as a second sexual assault allegation and a feud with Dana White overshadow talk of a possible return to action.
MMA is a sport with the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. Plenty of fighters will tell you that. But rarely do you see a fighter who seems to hit both the highs and lows all at once. Unless, of course, you’re UFC megastar Conor McGregor.
Megastar is the term to apply here, simply because the name McGregor has managed to transcend the sport. Along with Ronda Rousey, McGregor is one of perhaps just two UFC fighters to rival the UFC itself in terms of brand recognition.
But my, what a tumultuous time it is for Conor McGregor. Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that McGregor was under investigation for a second sexual assault incident. It should be noted that in Ireland, suspects are not named, and the Times is citing sources. But the rumor of a major Irish star being investigated for the second time regarding sexual assault made the rounds online well before the Times picked it up, and there was little doubt it was referring to McGregor.
The first incident came to light earlier this year. McGregor, never officially named, has never been charged, despite a DNA test reportedly being ordered.
Per the Times, “Conor McGregor is frequently the subject of rumors,” a publicist for the fighter said in an emailed statement. “He emphatically denies any report accusing him of sexual assault.” Cageside Press received a similar statement following the initial incident this year.
In the midst of this latest uproar, McGregor has scheduled a press conference in Russia this Thursday. Interesting timing, to say the least. McGregor’s whiskey, Proper 12, is launching in Russia, but the press conference is being used to bring attention back to his fighting career. Maybe.
“This is the first such event involving McGregor in Russia. Perhaps he will make statements about his imminent return to the Octagon,” said a statement (via MacLife) in advance of the press conference, made available by Russian outlet Tass, in conjunction with Parimatch (McGregor is a brand ambassador for Parimatch).
McGregor (21–4) has not fought since UFC 229 last year, when he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov via a neck crank. The Irish star is 2-1 in his last three fights in the octagon.
Perhaps as a form of damage control, news also broke over the weekend that McGregor had donated 12,000 pounds to a GoFundMe for “Hope for Evie,” a fundraising effort for a one-year old diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder known as microcephaly with pontine cerebellar hypoplasia (MICPCH). While it’s easy to pass that off as a PR move, it’s worth noting that the donation came roughly a week before news of the second sexual assault investigation broke in the Times.
All this in a week’s time. Plus a feud with Dana White, after McGregor called for a fight with Frankie Edgar, only to be denied. Shocking, given you’d expect the UFC to do just about anything to get McGregor back in the cage.
Without fighting in a year, McGregor has managed to garner more headlines in a matter of days than an entire UFC card. But while scandals and self-promotion will keep his name in the headlines, MMA fans only care about one thing: Conor McGregor’s next fight.
And that, it seems, it nowhere closer to being made.