There’s no such thing as bad publicity

Conor McGregor likely to bounce back from recent PR incident


Andrius Petrucenia / Flickr

UFC fighter Conor McGregor was charged with three counts of assault after he attacked a bus containing fellow fighters at a Brooklyn press event on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

Bilal Suleiman, Columnist

Conor McGregor was living the dream.

The mixed martial arts fighter’s cocky, swaggering bravado, both inside and outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon, earned him millions of fans around the world. His “Money Fight” with Floyd Mayweather, boxing superstar, earned him a rumored $100 million dollars. A cursory glance through his Instagram shows that McGregor, who hasn’t fought in the UFC since November 2016, is clearly enjoying his newfound free time and wealth.

Thursday’s bizarre incident in New York changes all of that for McGregor.

Dozens of videos circulating online clearly show McGregor, one of the most visible faces on the planet, running past an entourage after a bus filled with UFC fighters leaving a media event at the Barclays center. McGregor runs to side of the loading dock and picks up a hand dolly, then proceeds to throw it through the side window of the bus, shattering the glass. He then runs off, being followed by a small crowd of people.

Two fighters sustained injuries severe enough to have their fights pulled from Saturday’s card.

McGregor turned himself into police later that day and was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of felony criminal mischief, according to TMZ Sports. He was released on $50,000 bail on Friday after spending the night in jail.

It was revealed that the incident was retaliation for a confrontation earlier in the week, when members of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s team allegedly cornered McGregor’s teammate and good friend, Artem Lobov, in a hotel lobby. Nurmagomedov went on to win Saturday’s title fight and claim the lightweight championship, a title previously held by McGregor.

This bizarre series of events was so strange and unexpected that at first, I thought it was fake news. After confirming the video to be real, my next thought was that this must be staged. It just doesn’t make sense otherwise. There’s just no way that Conor McGregor is stupid enough to pull a stunt like that, knowing that he basically has a camera on him at all times.

Celebrities have always leveraged the media in their ever-long quest to stay relevant. The lives of the rich and famous make a compelling story that we can’t help but watch. Showmen have long lived by the quote, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” and that certainly rings true here. Despite the stupidity displayed by McGregor, he is a master manipulator of the media and he will be the one to benefit from last Thursday’s bus attack. The massive amount of publicity generated by this surprising event will help both McGregor and the UFC in the long run.

McGregor’s pending court case will keep him in the spotlight for the next few months. He is scheduled to be back in court on June 14. Meanwhile, the UFC will debate whether to punish him or not, adding to the drama. They can’t afford to lose their superstar but have been frustrated with him not fighting as of late. The fact that Khabib Nurmagomedov just took the lightweight title from McGregor is just too perfect to be a coincidence. This way, the built-in storyline behind a possible fight is juicy and gets lots of media coverage, making it the obvious choice for McGregor’s next fight.

Besides the two fighters who got injured, it seems to me that everyone involved is a winner. The UFC gets free media as side effect of the interest in the McGregor situation. McGregor can face up to seven years but is unlikely to do any jail time. Instead, he adds a bizzare chapter to his story and the perfect story to promote his next fight.

Everyone is a winner except for us, the viewers, who are continually having the wool pulled over our eyes and sold a false narrative.

Bilal Suleiman is a columnist for the Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].