Conor McGregor pleads guilty for UFC 223 incident: Khabib Nurmagomedov says ‘let’s finish our business’ as Irishman avoids jail for bus attack
UFC lightweight champion calls out Irishman for Madison Square Garden fight in November after former champ accepts plea deal
Conor McGregor has been called out by Khabib Nurmagomedov after the Irishman avoided jail time for his attack on an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bus outside the Barclays Centre in New York in April.
Former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion McGregor accepted a plea deal as prosecutors at Kings County Criminal Court agreed to drop two felonies and other charges.
“Glad that he stayed out of jail, because I wouldn’t be able to punish him in that case,” Nurmagomedov, who won McGregor’s vacant lightweight title, told MMA Junkie’s John Morgan in a statement. “Now he needs to bring his Irish team to MSG [Madison Square Garden] in November and finish our business.”
Soon after speaking to Morgan, Nurmagomedov posted a clear message directed at McGregor on Instagram:
It appears McGregor is eyeing a return to the UFC octagon, in which he hasn’t fought since November 2016.
“Conor has been training. He’s in shape. He’s ready to go,” Audie Attar, McGregor’s manager, said. “Now it’s about getting back to business. We hope to have something to announce really soon.”
Nurmagomedov is pushing to face McGregor at UFC 230 in New York, although an October 6 date at UFC 229 had been rumoured to host a highly-anticipated bout between the two.
After McGregor failed to defend the lightweight title for more than a year, Nurmagomedov was given the belt after beating Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in Brooklyn. The Russian mixed martial artist of Avar descent had been set to face number one contender Tony Ferguson before the American pulled out injured days before the fight with a freak knee injury.
It was ahead of that event that McGregor and members of his entourage were filmed throwing objects including a handcart at the windows of a tour bus containing UFC fighters.
The incident forced several changes to the fight card, with Michael Chiesa suffering facial injuries and Ray Borg removed from the bill with an eye injury because of shattered glass.
McGregor was arrested a few hours later and freed on US$50,000 bail. The incident was seen as a retaliatory attack for an earlier confrontation between Nurmagomedov’s team and McGregor teammate Artem Lobov in New York.
McGregor teammate Cian Cowley, who was involved in the attack on the bus, also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in court on Thursday and accepted a similar deal.
“I just want to say I’m thankful to the DA [district attorney Eric Gonzalez] and the judge for allowing me to move forward,” McGregor said.
“I want to say to my friends, my family, my fans, thank you for the support.”
Thankfully for McGregor, who is the biggest draw in MMA, his plea deal did not include a probation term.
A felony would have prevented the Irish native and resident from entering the US for fights, possibly ruining his MMA career. If he completes the deal, there will be no criminal record for his actions.
The 30-year-old from Crumlin, Dublin must perform five days of community service and attend up to three days of anger management, while assistant district attorney Janet Gleeson said he had already paid restitution for the damage he caused.
“This is a fair resolution that holds the defendant accountable, ensures restitution for the victims and requires the defendant to perform community service where he can reflect on his conduct and give back to society,” the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office told USA Today.
McGregor has not fought in MMA since soundly beating Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden.
The victory saw McGregor become the first UFC fighter to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes, a feat light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier matched by knocking out Stipe Miocic to claim the heavyweight championship earlier this month.
Nurmagomedov, 29, is undefeated in 26 career MMA fights and has been calling for a bout against McGregor for some time, only to be frustrated by the continued absence of the Irishman, who lost a mega-money boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas last August.
“There’s no more talking,” Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz told MMA Fighting. “This is the Khabib show now.
“To be honest, the way I feel about it, Conor would be much safer in jail. If this fight happens, the person who would execute the community service is Khabib by giving this a** whooping for the people.”