Former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor broke his silence speaking to Ariel Helwani of ESPN on Thursday on his fighting status.
McGregor, who has not fought since the loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 last October, spoke about his desire to return and an ideal rematch with Nurmagomedov for the lightweight championship. The 30-year old champion is set to defend the title on September 7th against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi at UFC 242. In the interview, McGregor was critical of Nurmagomedov’s strategy in their fight, accusing him of “running” in the first round and allowing McGregor to get overconfident and be hit with a beautiful albeit “lucky” shot, according to McGregor.
McGregor stated he was ready to return and fight at the end of July but a broken left hand suffered in May ended those plans. McGregor was involved in a heavy sparring session, stating he dropped the opponent with a right hand and followed with “an emotional left hand” and broke it. He stated he was just cleared to resume grappling and when pressed, stated he believes he could fight by the end of 2019.
Regarding potential opponents, his answer was “whoever” with a laundry list of options from Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz, Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar or Jose Aldo offered up by McGregor in his answer.
TMZ recently produced a video of McGregor striking a man inside of a bar, which took place back in April and was first reported by The Daily Star. The incident was addressed by McGregor, who said: “In reality, it doesn’t matter what happened, I was wrong, that man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it end the way it did”. He added that “I must come here before you and take accountability and take responsibility. I owe it to the people that have been supporting me. I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people that trained me in martial arts that’s not who I am, that’s not the reason I got into martial arts and combat sports”.
The incident inside the pub in April is one of several legal issues McGregor has been linked to over the past year. In March, the New York Times reported that the fighter was under investigation after being accused of sexual assault by a woman in Ireland last December. That same month, McGregor was arrested and charged with strong-armed robbery and criminal mischief after an altercation with a fan outside of a club in Miami Beach, Florida. The charges were dismissed.