Conor McGregor Faces 12 Criminal Charges Following UFC 223 Media Day Altercation

As with the felony charges, video evidence of McGregor throwing objects would be used against him as proof of assault, reckless endangerment and the other misdemeanors. Assuming the facial, optical and knuckle injuries suffered by Chiesa, Borg and the unnamed UFC employee, respectively, are proven to have occurred as a result of the melee (and are not pre-existing), McGregor’s actions would be directly connected to those injuries.

Assessing McGregor’s possible defenses

By choosing the Barclays Center to launch an attack, McGregor and his associates selected a professional sports and entertainment venue that was bound to contain surveillance cameras in many rooms and around every corner. They either wanted the world to see the attack or they inexplicably neglected to consider the presence of cameras. This is unfortunate for McGregor and his legal team: video evidence makes it impossible for him to argue that the incident did not occur.

Video evidence alone, however, may not be enough for prosecutors to prove McGregor’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For one, the videos that are available online may not be the only videos available. It’s possible that additional footage not only exists, but also complicates the narrative of McGregor as the culprit.

To that point, McGregor could claim that he acted in self-defense. Indeed, depending on the contents and credibility of witness statements, as well as the duration and quality of available video, Saland believes self-defense would be possible for McGregor. “What evidence,” the defense attorney asks, “reflects McGregor was the initial aggressor or didn’t act in a manner to protect himself? The video reflects a skirmish, but what did it fail to record?”

In addition, other fighters—including the injured ones—may be unwilling to testify as witnesses against McGregor. “Will the athletes McGregor is alleged to have assaulted,” Saland wonders, “want to look like tomato cans and acknowledge they suffered physical injuries and substantial pain when they likely dole out—and are the recipients of—much greater combat in the Octagon?” Saland’s point reflects a theme often detected in sports-injury cases. Athletes victimized by other athletes sometimes feel uncomfortable cooperating with the criminal justice system to hold the wrongful athletes accountable.

It’s also worth noting that McGregor and prosecutors could eventually work out a plea deal where McGregor pleads guilty to lesser charges. In exchange, prosecutors would drop the more severe charges. As a result of such a deal, McGregor might avoid jail time. However, he would still face lesser punishments, such as probation, fines or community service.

Potential immigration consequences for McGregor

While it’s possible that McGregor could avoid incarceration, any criminal conviction or guilty plea would nonetheless complicate his ability to remain in the United States as well as his ability to later return to the United States.

By all accounts, McGregor is a citizen of Ireland. Assuming that is the case, McGregor’s ability to spend time in the U.S. is predicated upon his adherence to our legal system.

McGregor is likely in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa or a green card. A nonimmigrant visa is for temporary travel within the country. McGregor likely qualifies for the O-1 or P-1 nonimmigrant visas. Such visas are reserved for international athletes and entertainers who are deemed of extraordinary or internationally recognized abilities and who seek to enter the U.S. to perform specific professional services or partake in leading competitions. Pro athletes from other countries often work in the U.S. through such visas.

Alternatively, McGregor could be in the U.S. on a green card, which would make him a permanent resident of the U.S. and—absent legal troubles—allow him to stay indefinitely. McGregor has clear ties to the U.S. and spends considerable time here. While he reportedly owns a home in Dublin, he also owns a mansion in Henderson, Nevada.

Whether McGregor is in the U.S. on a visa or green card, he is vulnerable to adverse action by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. To that end, if McGregor is convicted or pleads out, he could become deportable or inadmissible under U.S. immigration laws. Certain kinds of assault convictions have led to removals, and new immigration policies under President Donald Trump have expanded the scope of deportable crimes.

Even if McGregor avoids deportation, any conviction or plea deal would be relevant if McGregor leaves the U.S. and then seeks to be readmitted. At that time, he could be considered inadmissible by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and thus be denied a visa. In other words, McGregor could leave the U.S on his volition but then become unable to return for some time.

Potential lawsuits against McGregor and endorsement deals’ fallout

McGregor also faces the possibility of being sued over the assault. Chiesa, Borg and the unnamed UFC employee could file lawsuits against him for a variety of claims, including assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They could assert they were innocent bystanders on a bus attacked by McGregor and his associates, and wrongly injured in that attack. The fighters could also contend that the injuries have irreparably damaged their careers and potential earnings. Such an argument would seem especially plausible for Borg, whose eye injury (depending on its severity) could impede his ability to fight.

Unlike in a criminal prosecution, which requires prosecutors to prove a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, a civil lawsuit would only demand a showing that McGregor’s liability by a preponderance of evidence. McGregor, of course, could reach an out-of-court settlement with Chiesa, Borg and other persons who have potential claims against him.

It’s also possible that the UFC could sue McGregor for interference or fraud. Chiesa and Borg’s injuries have led to fight cancellations for UFC 223. These developments could make consumers less likely to pay at least several hundred dollars for remaining tickets to attend. It’s also worth noting that UFC 223 is a pay-per-view event. This means that the number of people who subscribe for UFC 223 impacts UFC’s revenue. UFC fans may already be on the fence about paying $64.99 to watch—especially with the late cancellation of fighter Max Holloway for reasons unrelated to the McGregor incident. They may now be even less inclined to watch due to the McGregor-related canceled fights.

For its part, the UFC could also sue McGregor. The UFC could assert that his conduct has unlawfully interfered with the UFC’s ability to either meet its contractual obligations to fans who have already bought UFC 223 tickets or paid to watch it on TV, and denies the UFC of the chance to attract other potential consumers.

One word of caution for such a potential lawsuit by the UFC: courts usually find that so long as a sports event is held as promised, the contractual obligation is satisfied—the fact that the UFC may need to use replacement fighters is unlikely to lead to liability for UFC. In turn, this means the UFC could struggle to prove that McGregor has caused them the kind of harm the law protects.

Lastly, McGregor could stand to lose millions of dollars if the companies with whom he has reached endorsement deals invoke morals clause language to terminate or suspend the contracts. These clauses can be invoked if an athlete causes controversy and damages his or her brand and, by extension, damages the image of companies endorsed by the athlete. McGregor, however, could remind those companies that his reputation is hardly one of an angel—he reportedly has tussled with the Irish mafia. Those companies presumably knew what they were getting into when they contracted with McGregor.

>Michael McCann is SI's legal analyst. He is also the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of New Hampshire School of Law and co-author with Ed O'Bannon of the new book Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA." data-reactid="51">>Michael McCann is SI's legal analyst. He is also the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of New Hampshire School of Law and co-author with Ed O'Bannon of the new book Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA.

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