McGregor keeps out of octagon but stays in headlines

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Steve Marcus

UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, center, of Ireland has words with former sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi, left, after his arrival at Toshiba Plaza Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017.

Mon, Dec 4, 2017 (2 a.m.)

Let’s check in on Conor McGregor, shall we?

When last we left him, in August, McGregor, the mixed martial arts fighter, was the talk of the sports world, earning untold millions for his first professional boxing match, against the boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. He lost that bout but was expected to return as the undisputed superstar of the Ultimate Fighting Championship Octagon.

But will he? No less than Dana White, the UFC president, said this week that McGregor might never fight again.

“We were working on a fight for him at the end of the year, and he’s just not ready,” White told reporters.

“Conor might never fight again,” he said, noting that McGregor has $100 million. “I’ve got guys who have made less than that, who were lawyers their whole lives, and quit working.”

“And fighting is the worst. Try to get up and get punched in the face for a living when you’ve got $100 million in the bank.”

So what has McGregor been doing with his free time and $100 million? According to the not always 100 percent accurate British and Irish tabloids, he was involved in a punch-up in an Irish bar over the weekend. Depending on which tabloid you read, the speculation got even wilder: Was one or more of those involved associated with a drug cartel? Were mobsters demanding compensation?

McGregor’s father, Tony, told The Irish Mirror: “That’s all nonsense, that is. Absolute nonsense. It’s an absolute nonsense story.”

“It’s grown legs and it’s getting that ridiculous — it’s become funny. We have nothing to fear here whatsoever. There’s no one after us for anything.

“I’d view 95 percent of that story as nonsense and the other 5 percent is overly exaggerated. And that’s it.”

McGregor has also been doing some driving; he picked up a $540 fine Thursday for speeding in his BMW, going 98 mph in a 62 mph zone.

As McGregor left court, reporters asked him about supposed threats on his life. McGregor said, “Come and get me.” RTE News of Ireland tweeted a video of the exchange; McGregor immediately retweeted it.

The idea that McGregor will never get back in a mixed martial arts ring is not entirely accurate — he did so earlier in November. After a Bellator event in Dublin, he celebrated the victory of a friend, Charlie Ward, by jumping into the cage, then confronting the referee. He also shoved the ref and lashed out at officials.

“I sincerely apologize for my behavior at last weekend’s fight event in Dublin,” he wrote later. “While trying to support a loyal teammate and friend, I let my emotions get the best of me and acted out of line.”

He said he objected to the referee, Marc Goddard, allowing the fight to continue after Ward had knocked his opponent down.

“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 overreacted. I am sorry to everyone.”

Last year, an opponent of Ward’s died after their bout.

In response, Goddard said he had intended to stop the fight.

“Had I been allowed to make my determination without the interference of unauthorized persons in the cage in the first place then the ensuing melee would have indeed not occurred,” he said.

Regardless of whether he does return to the cage, it looks like Conor McGregor will keep making news.

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