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Lawyer: Conor McGregor has ‘no way to defend’ himself in Michael Chiesa lawsuit

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Michael Chiesa and his legal team are very much in the driver’s seat in their lawsuit against Conor McGregor, according to a Brooklyn lawyer.

Chiesa, a UFC fighter, filed suit against McGregor, Barclays Center and others Monday night in New York State Supreme Court, Kings County, in response to the now-infamous bus attack back in April after UFC 223 media day. Per the complaint, Chiesa is claiming negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery and more. And attorney Dmitriy Shakhnevich believes he has a “legitimate” case, Shakhnevich told MMA Fighting.

McGregor and multiple cohorts stormed the bowels of Barclays Center after UFC 223 media day and attacked a bus that was transporting UFC fighters. McGregor threw a dolly at the bus, shattering a window and sending glass cascading onto some inside the vehicle. Chiesa was left bloody in the incident and had to withdraw from his scheduled fight with Anthony Pettis at UFC 223 due to the injury.

Later that night, McGregor was arrested. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in July and was sentenced to five days of community service and three days of anger management courses.

That guilty plea, Shakhnevich said, is the key to Chiesa’s lawsuit. Plus, there are videos clearly showing McGregor committing the act.

“There’s definitely a legitimate case,” said the lawyer, who specializes in criminal defense and personal injury. “In fact, because [McGregor] plead guilty in the criminal case. And in criminal cases the standard is higher — it’s beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not a preponderance of the evidence. Because he did that, it’s virtually a defenseless case. You can’t defend this case, there’s no way to defend it. Even if he didn’t plead guilty, there’s 450 videos showing this. There’s really no substantive defense.”

Shakhnevich predicts that McGregor and Barclays Center will settle with Chiesa and it’ll most likely be a quick process.

“There’s no other way,” the lawyer said. “Because there’s no defense. There’s no way Conor can defend his case — he plead guilty. He allocated in open court what he did wrong. There’s no defense that’s admissible in this case.”

Chiesa’s Joseph W. Murray did not put a dollar amount in the complaint, which was a smart move, per Shakhnevich. Shakhnevich said that Chiesa could get somewhere in the low six figures from McGregor in this lawsuit, though “even that’s a stretch.” There were no serious injuries or death, he said, so it won’t be a massive movement of money. What Chiesa’s team does have is leverage.

“What they can do in this case is they can really put Conor through the ringer,” Shakhnevich said. “They can make him sit for a deposition, they could tape the deposition. It could make him really uncomfortable. He doesn’t need that. He has money, he has fame, he has everything. He’s not gonna want to be dragged through the mud. He’s gonna pay whatever he has to pay. Whatever he pays will pale in comparison to what he makes in a couple of weeks. There’s really no reason for him to defend this case.”

McGregor will challenge Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title in the main event of UFC 229 on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas. That will likely be the UFC superstar’s focus in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Chiesa is taking a beating in the court of public opinion. Plenty of MMA fans — many of whom are McGregor fans — are not happy with him being litigious. Shakhnevich, though, said Chiesa is well within his rights and making the correct move.

“It’s tough to forego this possibility,” the attorney said. “The justice system is designed for this and he has a great case on the merits. There’s no downside. So, it’s tough to blame him. To get that much money in his pocket for a guy — you never know, he could lose his next fight and be cut and that’s it. It’s that kind of business. So, you can’t really judge him. I don’t. I’d encourage him to do the same thing and I’d encourage everybody else in that bus to do the same thing.”