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Opinion: Don’t be surprised if Conor McGregor doesn’t do media for UFC 246

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McGregor could get the same preferential treatment Ronda Rousey received at UFC 207

When the UFC releases the schedule of events for UFC 246 fight week, don’t be shocked if Conor McGregor’s name is conspicuously absent from that list.

The man with the most bombastic personality and biggest mouth in MMA could get the same treatment that Ronda Rousey received ahead of UFC 207. a welterweight bout between McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone is scheduled to headline UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

In the lead up to that December 2016 event, which was headlined by Rousey vs. women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, the former champ went radio silent, refusing to participate in any UFC 207 media events. Rousey did so with the blessing of the UFC.

”If you look at the amount of press that’s been done by any fighter in the UFC, in UFC history, Ronda smokes everybody, by a long shot,” White said during a media scrum related to that fight card. “This is the way she wanted it. The only thing she cares about right now is focusing on winning.”

”She’s done a lot of things for this company. I say it all the time about Conor, too. Ronda’s done a lot of things for us, this is what she wanted. So, I gave it to her.”

The circumstances are certainly different with McGregor, who has a long list of indiscretions to his name over the past three years. Despite that, White could certainly spin keeping the ex-two division champ out of the media mix in the same way he did with Rousey. However, if the UFC boss does attempt to do so, the credentialed MMA media has every right to run White through the wringer for a play that transparent.

For those who need a reminder of what McGregor has been up to since 2016, here’s a list:

  • He’s been stripped of two UFC titles for not defending either in a timely manner.
  • He’s gone 0-1 in the UFC.
  • He leaped over the cage at Bellator 187 and shoved referee Marc Goddard.
  • He almost singlehandedly ruined the UFC 223 fight card when he went bonkers and threw a hand truck into the window of a bus carrying fighters, UFC employees and others from a media event for that card. Three fights were scrapped from the event as a direct result of McGregor’s actions. Two fighters on the bus suffered injuries and McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov was pulled for being among the knuckleheads who followed violent Saint Patrick into the bowels of Barclays Center. McGregor was arrested for his involvement in the fracas. He eventually pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct.
  • After his UFC 229 loss to Nurmagomedov, McGregor was suspended six months and fined $50,000 for his involvement in a post-fight melee inside the octagon.
  • He was arrested after he was caught on video smashing the cell phone of a man outside the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. The charges from that incident were later dropped after the alleged victim was reportedly “made whole” by McGregor and did not want to return to Florida to prosecute the case.
  • He was arrested after he was caught on video punching a man in the head inside a Dublin pub. McGregor pleaded guilty to assault in that case.
  • Most recently, the NY Times reported that McGregor is the focus of two sexual assault investigations in Ireland.

McGregor might not be totally out of the media mix. He could reach out to media members who have been friendly to him, such as ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, who performed what was ostensibly PR work for McGregor in August when they spoke. I’m reluctant to call it an interview as Helwani did not mention McGregor was — and is — under investigation for a sexual assault in Ireland.

At the time, Deadspin wrote of the soft-ball conversation:

”Helwani’s job here is not to interrogate or otherwise address with any journalistic seriousness McGregor’s penchant for violent, antisocial behavior. His job is to provide a cozy platform for McGregor to engage in some image rehabilitation. And Helwani was happy—honored, even—to have a role in this cynical process…”

McGregor is now under investigation for two sexual assaults in Ireland. It will be a massive surprise if the UFC opens McGregor up to the type of scrutiny he needs to be placed under by the MMA media.

White, perhaps the most shameless huckster in combat sports this side of Don King, has already begun to attempt to spin things in a way that makes it appear that the New York Times is spreading “fake news” by reporting the open sexual assault investigations.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports, White said:

”He’s obviously done some thing. He’s been charged and paid and done everything he’s supposed to do. These other things, first of all I don’t even know. Has it said that he’s the guy that’s being accused?

”Listen, if he was being charged with something right now. It would be a different story. The New York Times have wrote those stories, but those are no other stories out there about Conor McGregor.”

Fans who are attending UFC 246 fight week in Las Vegas might want to make alternate plans on the usual media event days. Hey, maybe Chase Hooper will be in town and available to go on a tour of M&M’s World.