The UFC Absolutely Cannot Afford To Reward Conor McGregor For Bad Behavior

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Historically speaking, the bad boys of combat sports are rewarded far more than the good guys. Those who stir up the most controversy happen to be the ones who capture the public eye. In turn, promoters leverage their personalities to make the big bucks. It’s a pretty tried and true formula that works in most cases. However, there are times where bad behavior shouldn’t be rewarded because all it does is create a monster you eventually cannot control. 

In April of 2018, Conor McGregor stormed the Barclays Center to confront Khabib Nurmagomedov ahead of UFC 223. Believing to have found the bus that Nurmagomedov was in, McGregor and his entourage surrounded the bus with the Irishman leading the charge. In a matter of moments, McGregor picked up a dolly and hurled it through the window of the bus, injuring Ray Borg and Michael Chiesa, preventing them from competing at the event. 

Mind you, McGregor hadn’t competed in the Octagon in 17 months and was merrily enjoying his earnings after his August 2017 boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. But here he was, causing chaos and leaving devastation in his wake. 

McGregor was arrested and UFC president Dana White was fuming when asked about the incident by media. 

“This is the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company, and there is a warrant out for Conor McGregor’s arrest,” White said. He swiftly downplayed the idea that this was a promotional stunt and was adamant that McGregor would be punished for his actions. “You can imagine he’s going to be sued beyond belief and this was a real bad career move for him.”

But was it?

On Thursday, McGregor pled guilty to disorderly conduct as part of a plea deal in Brooklyn criminal court. He will avoid jail time and his travel visa won’t be affected. All felony counts were dismissed, and he would have to serve five days of community service and take anger management classes.

MORE: What Conor McGregor's plea deal means for former UFC champion

Few expected more than a slap on the wrist. However, the UFC shouldn’t be so lenient with the former featherweight and lightweight champion. Moments after it was announced that a plea deal was accepted, speculation immediately turned to McGregor’s return to the Octagon and a highly anticipated showdown with the current lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

The reasons the fight hadn’t been made lay somewhere in between McGregor spending his $99 million he made against Floyd Mayweather and the UFC not being able to meet the Irishman’s financial demands for a return to the Octagon. It’s no secret that McGregor is driven by the mighty dollar and will most certainly demand the highest purse in UFC history before he agrees to fight again. After all, what he made in a half hour against Mayweather trumps his career MMA earnings. To put it in perspective, McGregor has made a disclosed $9.5 million during his UFC tenure that began on April 6, 2013, and has spanned ten fights. He made ten times that in a half hour boxing with Mayweather.  

McGregor’s asking price has only gone up since then. With the UFC struggling to sell pay per views and create another star, the need to bring the boisterous Irishman back into the fold has become pretty obvious. It appears that the UFC is going to eventually acquiesce to his demands because the MMA promotion has had a pretty tumultuous time in his absence. But it’s not so bad that you allow McGregor to run amok and award him with a payday that’s likely to be higher than the entirety of the payouts for your other events, is it?

It’s really not. 

McGregor should be punished by the UFC for his actions. Sure, he won’t end up spending time behind bars. However, the fact that he hasn’t been active in over a year and nearly decimated an entire fight card with his ill-advised antics should speak in volumes when it comes to how much he cares about the company.   

Let’s be clear that this is no fault of McGregor’s. The blame falls squarely on the UFC for creating this monster. McGregor is a prizefighter. Contrary to what some will lead you to believe, the prize is what it’s all about. And McGregor came to the UFC with that mindset and has watched it pay off in dividends. He’s here to drive his stock through the roof and cash out – by any means necessary. 

At a certain point, you stop blaming the dog for urinating in the house. If the owner refuses to teach the dog, and gives him a treat right after he defecates on the rug, that’s the owner’s fault. If it is true that the UFC is preparing to reward Conor McGregor for his actions with what will be a historically massive fight purse, everything that Dana White said has gone out of the window. 

“I mean, do you want to be in business with Conor McGregor right now?” White asked reporters after the incident. “Do you want to chase this guy around for interviews and buy his fights? Do you? I don’t think anybody is going to want to right now. I think everybody is going to be pretty disgusted with Conor McGregor right now. Listen, you don’t like Khabib and you don’t like what happened or whatever? Then fight Khabib.

“What happened today was criminal, disgusting, despicable, makes me sick, and we as an organization need to make sure that this never happens again.”

If the plan is to pay McGregor to fight for a world title, that’s exactly what you don’t do to ensure that an incident like that happens again.

Instead, maybe the UFC should shelve McGregor indefinitely and let him come begging to them for a fight. It's a hard line to draw in the sand with the biggest attraction in combat sports, but there needs to be a clear distinction between the promoter and the fighter.

Right now, McGregor truly believes he should have ownership in the organization. Because of that, he can pretty much do whatever he wants because he sees this as a level playing field. It's up to the UFC to prove that it's not and the company will not fold without him. Eventually, McGregor will either retire or lower his financial demands to fight.

But he simply cannot be rewarded for bad behavior. It riles up the rest of the fighters and really does the UFC no favors in the long term. He may boost PPV buys for a fight, but he's a special attraction and no longer a part of the UFC fabric. Meanwhile, fighters like Demetrious Johnson, Tyron Woodley, Max Holloway, Daniel Cormier, Rose Namajuanas and others continue to perform and put on great shows. They are the backbone of the company and should be propped up as such. 

Conor McGregor is a once in a lifetime kind of athlete, but the future of the UFC doesn't live or die with his existence. Boxing has allegedly been dead for years, but someone always comes around to prove that it's not. Eventually, you have to move on. The UFC is in a similar spot. Times may be hard, but allowing McGregor to do whatever he wants and compensate him for it is bad for the future of the organization.  

Source : http://www.sportingnews.com/us/mma/news/ufc-absolutely-cannot-afford-to-reward-conor-mcgregor-for-bad-behavior/14ul0bl53eul51nz8au8gziy4l

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