UFC star Conor McGregor’s brief hiatus from mixed martial arts hasn’t stopped him from making headlines.
He was sitting cageside for Saturday’s UFC event in Gdansk, Poland when the referee stopped the action in the cage and admonished McGregor for circling the ring shouting instructions and encouragement to his friend and training partner Artem Lobov, who eventually lost a unanimous decision to Andre Fili.
His actions after the fight have been under even more scrutiny.
McGregor was captured on camera offering impassioned words encouragement with one arm around Lobov as he walked him back to the locker room.
During the exchange, McGregor appeared to utter a homosexual slur several times in reference to Lobov’s opponent. Social media sites immediately condemned the superstar fighter after a clip began circulating.
The UFC has not commented on the matter. Former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum was in a similar situation last month when he repeatedly used a slur in Spanish during a verbal altercation with a fellow fighter.
At the time, a UFC statement said the organization was “disappointed” in Werdum, who apologized and agreed to do community service within the LGBTQ community in Las Vegas.
McGregor has been an outspoken advocate of same-sex marriage, particularly when the issue was on the ballot in his native Ireland. He previously came under fire for using the term ‘boy’ while promoting his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather.
Till ready for next step
Rising welterweight star Darren Till made the leap from prospect to contender with a first-round knockout of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the main event of UFC Fight Night 118 on Saturday in Gdansk, Poland.
The outcome certainly didn’t surprise Till, whose confidence has never been in doubt.
“I expected first, second round because of how powerful I am right now,” he said at the news conference. “I knew as soon as he walked in the cage that I had his number.”
While Till was complimentary of Cerrone after the fight, he also believes the veteran may have underestimated him and had written off Till’s brashness as an act.
“When people actually see me in the flesh and they see how I carry myself around, they see that it’s not fake,” the 24-year-old Englishman said. “I’m not, like, fake confidence. I just totally believe in myself.”
Till, undefeated in a 17-fight pro career, has now won all three fights in 2017 after missing more than 18 months due to a shoulder injury.
He doesn’t want to rush back into another fight, especially now with the potential of massive matchups on the horizon coming off the dominating victory over Cerrone.
Till’s manager has already advised him to be patient in booking his next bout, though he acknowledges that’s easier said than done.
“I’m going to have a month off, get blathered a few times, and we’ll see what the new year brings,” he said. “But if a fight gets booked, if the UFC says right now, ‘We’ll get you a fight in December,’ I think I’d beg my coaches and my manager to take it.”
Also on the card, women’s strawweight contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz snapped a two-fight losing streak against the division’s elite with a dominant unanimous-decision victory over newcomer Jodie Esquibel.
OSP steps in at UFC 217
Light heavyweight contender Ovince Saint Preux didn’t get too much time to celebrate his Sept. 23 victory over Yushin Okami.
Saint Preux has agreed to replace Patrick Cummins on the UFC 217 card at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 4 in a bout against Corey Anderson.
Cummins was forced to withdraw from the fight due to staph infection.
Saint Preux has won two straight fights after a run of three consecutive losses that included a unanimous decision defeat to Jon Jones in an interim title bout.
UFC 217 is headlined by a middleweight title bout between champion Michael Bisping and returning former welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre.
UFC Fight Night 119
Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida returns from an 18-month suspension for a violation of the UFC’s anti-doping policy when he fights Derek Brunson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 119 on Saturday night in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Machida, who has gone 3-3 since dropping to middleweight in 2013, hasn’t competed since a knockout loss to Yoel Romero in June 2015. His suspension was the result of an out-of-competition sample that was collected as he was training for a bout against Dan Henderson in April 2016.
The event, which also includes a welterweight contender bout between Demian Maia and Colby Covington, will air on Fox Sports 1 at 7 p.m.
— Oct. 28: UFC Fight Night 119 (FS1), Sao Paulo, Brazil
— Nov. 3: Bellator 186 (Spike TV), State College, Pennsylvania
— Nov. 4: UFC 217 (FS1/PPV), New York
— Nov. 10: Bellator 187 (Spike TV), Dublin
— Nov. 11: UFC Fight Night 120 (FS1), Norfolk, Virginia