Conor McGregor's role in the UFC 202 pre-fight press conference ended up being a costly one.
The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) on Monday unanimously voted to issue the UFC featherweight champion a $150,000 fine, or five percent of his $3 million show purse, for the bottle-throwing incident that took place between McGregor and UFC 202 opponent Nate Diaz on Aug. 17 at the Copperfield Theater inside the MGM Grand.
The NAC also handed down 50 hours of community service to McGregor and will require McGregor to participate in an anti-bullying campaign for the commission.
The ruling is a far cry from the initial recommendation of the Nevada Attorney General, who suggested a $25,000 fine, 25 days of community service, and five hours of "some sort of media training" for McGregor, while also calling the incident "a disrespect to the commission" and "a disrespect to the sport."
UFC 202's pre-fight press conference ended prematurely on Aug. 17 when Diaz stormed out of the Copperfield Theater with his team while trading expletives with McGregor and flipping off the Irishman. The two sides ended up hurling several water bottles at one another across the theater, with McGregor even throwing a Monster Energy can that he grabbed off the dais. The incident was heavily promoted on various media throughout the rest of fight week and ultimately helped UFC 202 become one of the highest-selling UFC pay-per-views of all-time.
On Monday, McGregor's attorney argued that Diaz was the first one to escalate the situation and that Diaz's group was the first to throw any bottles. McGregor, speaking over the phone from Ireland, then apologized for his actions, admitting fault and stating that he acted "very erratically" and his emotions got the better of him during the melee.
"I just want to apologize for the incident, "McGregor said. "It was a very unusual incident as I saw it unfolding even. I just acted wrong, and all I can say is I'm sorry and I will learn from this. ... This fight had everything on the line for me. This was the highest stakes fight I'd ever been in. I was in a different mindset. So all I can do is learn from it and learn to handle myself better if I find myself in a situation like that.
"I just want to own up and apologize for my part and say that it will not happen in the future. That's really all I can say."
McGregor's attorney spent ample time arguing against a suspension that would prevent McGregor from competing in his headlining fight against UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez on Nov. 12 at UFC 205, however a potential suspension was never placed on the table by the NAC. Instead, the commission moved to dramatically increase the fine levied against McGregor, with commissioners Pat Lundvall and Michon Martin pushing for as high as a $300,000 sanction equivalent to 10-percent of McGregor's show purse.
Lundvall argued that the endangering of people's safety in the crowd at the press conference was something she found to be inexcusable, and noted the heavy weight of the Monster can thrown by McGregor. Lundvall then voiced her to support in doubling the Attorney General's recommendation of 25 community service hours to 50 hours, as the extra time working with children would help "an athlete that may need to be taught a lesson, and may need to be humbled, as it relates to dealing with the public." Lundvall also noted that a portion of the increased fine on McGregor would be go towards the anti-bullying campaign, and it was necessary because "decent campaigns cost money."
Lundvall's suggestions were met by disagreement from commissioners Anthony Marnell and Francisco Aguilar, both of whom argued that they were uncomfortable with a potential $300,000 fine. Marnell noted that the proposal appeared "really extreme" for an incident in which no one came to blows, while Aguilar argued that McGregor's time and community service benefitted the Nevada community more than a sizeable fine, then pushed for the commission to adopt the Attorney General's recommendations.
But ultimately, those pleas fell on deaf ears, as the commission unanimously approved to hit McGregor with a $150,000 fine as well as 50 hours of community service. The NAC also earmarked half of the $150,000 fine to go towards an anti-bullying public service announcement in which McGregor will appear.
A hearing for Diaz, initially scheduled to take place on Monday, was postponed to a later date.
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