Is this the MMA version of a ‘heated gaming moment’? That seems to be the angle Conor McGregor is taking in reference to the candid conversation he had with Artem Lobov following his training partner’s loss to Andre Fili at UFC Gdansk earlier this October.
A UFC film crew followed the lightweight champion as he comforted his friend backstage at the event, and accidentally captured him calling Lobov’s opponent a homophobic slur several times.
“He was a f—t, and everyone knew he was a f—t,” McGregor said in the since deleted video posted to the UFC’s Twitter account.
In a recent appearance (yet to be aired) on RTE ONE’s The Late Late Show, McGregor addressed his use of the slur. And while he did a lot of hemming and hawing over his emotions at the time – and over perceived media persecution – he did eventually offer something like an apology.
“I have to put my hands up, there,” McGregor said in the short clip released by the Late Late show ahead of their upcoming broadcast on November 3rd. “I was watching a fighter, a sparring partner, a training partner, a friend, a brother, who has given his health – his body health, his brain health, everything – to help me prepare for fights; to give my brain health and my body health to entertain the public. So that's the fighter I was going to watch and support.
“And I witnessed him lose a fight in a manner that – and a potential career ending fight – a manner where the opponent was stalling and running away. And I was upset. And I was whispering in his ear, and I was speaking on that, and I said what I said. And I meant no disrespect to nobody of any of the LBGT community. I didn't mean no disrespect to that.
“I wasn't even... You'd swear I was talking about or screaming at two people of the same sex kissing,” McGregor continued. “I campaigned when we were trying to get same-sex marriage legalized, I was campaigning for that. It's another one where things just get blown out and they love to just... Any chance they get they love to throw me under the bus. It's just one of those things. I'm just saying I'm sorry for what I said and that's it, and try and move on from it.”
How exactly McGregor moves on remains to be seen. It’s unlikely he faces much in the way of repercussions from the UFC, as they look to get him back into the Octagon sometime in the coming months. At the moment, a fight with Tony Ferguson seems like it’s becoming more and more a reality as the next bout for the UFC lightweight champion.