New York (AFP) – Irish Mixed Martial Arts superstar Conor McGregor was taken to court in New York in handcuffs on Friday, charged with assault and criminal mischief over an extraordinary attack on a bus carrying rival fighters that injured two athletes.
The 29-year-old was caught on video Thursday hurling a dolly through a side window of the bus as rival fighters attended a media event at the Barclays Center. The bus was moving slowly through the Brooklyn stadium parking lot at the time.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship said two athletes were wounded, forcing them to be pulled from the upcoming UFC 223 card.
McGregor, who reportedly surrendered to Brooklyn police late Thursday, was escorted out of the police station in handcuffs, dressed in jeans, white sneakers and a tight-fitting blue top, before being driven off in the back of a sedan for court.
Bail was reportedly set at $50,000 and arrangements were being worked out for him to fly home to Ireland without US authorities seizing his passport, reports said.
Lightweight Michael Chiesa sustained facial cuts, deeming him unfit to fight by the New York State Athletic Commission and UFC medical team. Flyweight Ray Borg was deemed unfit to fight due to multiple corneal abrasions.
“I’m devastated to say the least,” tweeted Chiesa.
Police confirmed that McGregor has been charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief, and that fellow MMA fighter Cian Cowley, 25, has been charged with one count of assault and one count of criminal mischief.
Bail for Cowley was reportedly being set at $25,000.
UFC President Dana White told ESPN that no decision would be taken on McGregor’s lucrative UFC career until after this weekend’s fight card.
“Conor is in a lot of trouble. Obviously, the big question everybody’s been asking me is, ‘Are you firing Conor McGregor?’” White told the broadcaster. “This is bigger than Conor McGregor getting fired. There are so many more moving pieces to this thing.”
– ‘Most disgusting thing ever’ –
White denied Thursday’s fracas was an elaborate publicity stunt.
“This is the last stunt on Earth that we’d ever pull,” he said. “This is embarrassing for the sport and obviously for the UFC. This is the furthest thing from a stunt. This is bad.”
On Thursday, White accused the Irish star, nicknamed “The Notorious,” and a group of around 20 men of “storming the building.”
“They got down to the loading docks where the fighters were getting on the buses and attacked them, throwing trash cans, dollies, things like that,” White said. “Broke one of the windows, cut Michael Chiesa real bad.”
White called it “the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company,” and warned that McGregor would likely face legal action.
“As you can imagine, he’s going to be sued beyond belief,” White said. “This was a real bad career move for him.”
The Irishman reportedly pocketed around $100 million for the superfight he lost in August in Las Vegas against ex-welterweight champion boxer Floyd Mayweather.
Their matchup was one of the richest boxing bouts of all time.
It was not clear what triggered the alleged assault, but it appeared to be linked in part to the UFC’s decision to strip McGregor of his world title.
McGregor reportedly turned up unannounced at the end of the press event publicizing the UFC 223.
On Wednesday, White said the UFC would take back McGregor’s lightweight title, which would be awarded to the winner of Saturday’s UFC 223 fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway in New York.
McGregor reacted angrily to the decision on social media. “You’s’ll strip me of nothing,” he tweeted, invoking an expletive.