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Conor McGregor's penalty reduced for bottle-throwing incident at UFC 202 press conference

Conor McGregor (EL, MMA F) Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor finally received his re-hearing with the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) over his infamous UFC 202 press conference bottle-throwing incident, and it was a beneficial one.

McGregor’s punishment was adjusted to a $25,000 fine and 25 hours of community service during a Wednesday meeting of the NAC — a far cry from the $75,000 fine and 50 hours McGregor initially received from the commission in October.

The ruling ended a long saga that began on Aug. 17 when McGregor and the team of his UFC 202 opponent, Nate Diaz, engaged in a fiery skirmish inside of the Copperfield Theater in Las Vegas, bringing UFC 202's pre-fight press conference to a premature end. Following a walkout by Diaz, the two sides hurled several water bottles at one another across the theater, with McGregor even throwing a Monster Energy can 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.

McGregor’s initial punishment for the incident was a costly one. In October, the then-UFC featherweight champion was issued a $150,000 fine — or five percent of his $3 million show purse — along with 50 hours of community service in a controversial ruling by the NAC. A week after the sentence, NAC executive director Bob Bennett announced that the fine had been misinterpreted and was cut in half, with $75,000 of the $150,000 fine being owed to the commission, and the other $75,000 representing the value of a public-service announcement McGregor could do for the commission.

McGregor’s reaction to the initial punishment was predictable. In an interview conducted with Rolling Stone in October, the Irishman shrugged off the commission’s fine, stating, "Whatever, it is what it is. Good luck trying to get it." McGregor then added, "I don't see Nevada in my future, for the foreseeable future is how I see it. I'm free to do what I want.”

Later that same month, the nine-year run of ex-NAC commissioner Pat Lundvall came to an unexpected end. Whether coincidentally or not, Lundvall was the commissioner responsible for suggesting the $150,000 fine be imposed on McGregor.

On Wednesday, with talks of a blockbuster Floyd Mayweather fight heating up and big business looming that McGregor could provide to the state of Nevada, the NAC and representatives for the reigning UFC lightweight champion elected to revisit the original decision.

In laying out a “proposed settlement agreement” between the two sides, Nevada Deputy Attorney General Caroline Bateman noted that the conduct at the press conference that occurred between McGregor and Diaz was “not appropriate,” but did not ultimately impact their contest at UFC 202 — whereas a PED failure would — and thus the model of fining an individual by a percentage of their purse “doesn’t really work” in this instance. Bateman also noted the wildly differing purses for McGregor and other individuals who may find themselves in similar scenarios, stating that it did not make sense to fine McGregor significantly more than another fighter just because he gets paid more.

A revised punishment of a $25,000 fine and 25 hours of community service was then proposed, with Bennett explaining that McGregor had six months to fulfill the community service, which could be done in either Las Vegas or Dublin, Ireland. Bennett cited gym visits and speaking to youth as an example of community service that McGregor could do to fulfill the requirements. Bennett also echoed sentiments that the initial October ruling by the NAC was misguided.

“[McGregor] took full responsibility for his inappropriate behavior when he was on the telephone last time (in October),” Bennett said. “The line was a little broken, but he apologized profusely, not only to the commission, to the fans, to everybody who had observed that activity, and just said ‘hey look, I made a mistake, I apologize, I’m asking for your forgiveness.’ And I would respectfully remind you that there was no settlement agreement in place. We didn’t have any conversations with Mr. McGregor or his attorney as to, ‘well, this could happen, he may get fined, he may get suspended.’

“No, he just came forward and said, ‘hey look, I was out of line, I really apologize. I wish I hadn’t done it.’ And in essence, he placed the outcome in the hands of the commission, which I thought was very honorable of him.

“[There were] some references made to (Daniel) Cormier and (Jon) Jones’ incident, as I previously said, that was not on-point and it wasn’t a fair comparison,” Bennett added. “Because ... of course what they were going to be making was significantly more than what Jones and Cormier did, just because the fines were higher. And in my opinion, with all due respect, I just didn’t think that was fair. And I think that’s one of the main reasons the chairman decided for us to have a meeting and to make this motion for reconsideration.”

As long as McGregor pays his revised fine, Wednesday’s result frees up the Irishman to pursue a boxing license in the state of Nevada in his continued chase of a big-money fight against Mayweather.

It also opens the door for Diaz to seek a re-hearing on his punishment for the UFC 202 press conference incident. In December, Diaz was fined $50,000 and issued 50 hours of community service under terms that mirrored McGregor’s for his role in the melee.

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