Dear UFC | Will Conor McGregor be punished?

Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Conor McGregor reacts as Artem Lobov (red gloves, not pictured) fights Andre Fili (blue gloves, not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

What’s going to happen to Conor McGregor?  

Conor McGregor made some massive headlines last week, but none had to do with his talents as a fighter inside the cage … well, not in the traditional sense. The UFC lightweight champion was seen jumping the cage at Bellator 187 in Dublin, Ireland, last Friday, celebrating what he thought was a victory with teammate Charlie Ward.

The problem? The fight wasn’t yet over.

The bigger problem? McGregor wasn’t licensed as a cornerman for Ward, making his presence inside the cage at that time as unwarranted as yours or mine would be.

The biggest problems? McGregor wasn’t very happy to find out the in-cage officials wanted him, you know, out of the cage. He went as far as to shove highly regarded referee Marc Goddard before being kicked out of the arena. He somehow made his way back into the venue, jumping on top of the cage as the fight actually ended. A Bellator employee attempted to escort McGregor down off the cage, only for McGregor to slap the staffer in the face.

Clearly not the way a promotion would want its star fighter to behave — especially while surrounded by cameras owned by its greatest rival — will the UFC do anything about the incident?

Dana White has previously taken a stern stance against fighters making contacts with officials, firing Jason High in 2014. The difference? Jason High was nowhere near the commodity Conor McGregor is.

It’s been several days now, and the UFC has yet to make any public statement.

Was McGregor ever really in the running for UFC 219? 

While the UFC has yet to publicly condemn McGregor’s actions last Friday, it has reportedly altered some plans. According to the president of the Association of Boxing Commissions Mike Mazzuli, the UFC has effectively removed McGregor from a potential appearance at UFC 219 on Dec. 30.

Except, this is the first public acknowledgment any official has made to suggest McGregor was being considered for UFC 219, to begin with. It had been rumored in recent weeks, but not strongly enough to lead anybody to believe this was going to happen. The UFC, according to MMAjunkie, has yet to comment on whether it truly had any plans for McGregor’s return at UFC 219.

McGregor himself never promised he would be back in 2017, and his most probable opponent in Tony Ferguson fought back in October, making this somewhat of a quick turnaround.

That begs the question: If McGregor wasn’t deeply embedded in the UFC’s plans for the Dec. 30 pay-per-view, does “removing” him serve as a punishment of any kind?

What’s the plan for UFC 219?

Speaking of the UFC’s year-ending PPV…

Let us for a moment assume the UFC did have plans to host McGregor at UFC 219. This now means the company will be forced to look elsewhere for a main event.

Only, there really isn’t anywhere else to look.

Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson fought in early October and has no ideal contenders for his title (none that would be ready for Dec. 30). Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw only just fought in early November. Featherweight champion Max Holloway fights on Dec. 2. Lightweight champion McGregor has since been declared ineligible. Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is mending a shoulder injury. Middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre has no plans on fighting again so soon after returning in early November. Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is a better bet for early 2018 than late 2017. Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic may be ready, but doesn’t have a single standout title contender in his division. Women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (still feels weird to say, doesn’t it?) fought in early November. Women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will not fight again this year.

That leaves women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. While she may be ready to go for Dec. 30, her most ideal opponent, Holly Holm, is reportedly playing hardball with the UFC, demanding a higher payday for a dance with the dominant female champion. If that bout — one that could potentially sell well — doesn’t pan out, Cyborg would very likely wind up facing a title challenger we’ve either A) never heard of, or B) previously seen at 135 pounds, not 145.

UFC 219, so long as the company insists on keeping it as a PPV event, is in some trouble.

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