Conor McGregor is ready to make amends.
The former two-division UFC champion has been making far more headlines for his behavior outside the Octagon than anything he’s been doing in the sport of mixed martial arts lately and he’s taking responsibility for his actions.
The latest incident involved a video released by TMZ from an altercation that happened back in April when McGregor was seen punching a man at a bar after he was reportedly handing out samples of his Proper No. 12 whiskey in Ireland.
While police in Ireland are still investigating the incident, McGregor says no matter the result, he’s admitting that he was wrong and it never should have happened.
“In reality it doesn’t matter what happened there. I was in the wrong,” McGregor said when addressing the situation for the first time when speaking to ESPN on Thursday. “That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it to end the way it did. Although five months ago it was and I tried to make amends and I made amends back then.
“That does not even matter. I was in the wrong. I must come here before you and take accountability and take responsibility.”
No matter what led up to the incident, McGregor says that’s not the kind of person he wants to be and it’s certainly not how he wants to represent himself to an adoring public that has supported him throughout his career.
“I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people who trained me in martial arts. That’s not who I am,” McGregor stated. “That’s not the reason I got into martial arts or studying combat sports. The reason I got into it was to defend against that type of scenario so to see that and although I have been making steps and continually making steps to do better and be better, to see it, it’s like a dagger into my heart as a young martial artist.
“I’m just here to own up to that and move on and carry on and face what’s coming with it.”
Because authorities in Ireland are still investigating the incident, McGregor may face some sort of punishment for his actions but it appears he’s ready to own up to what he did even if that means legal action against him.
“I just have to wait and see what happens. Whatever comes my way, I will face it,” McGregor said. “Whatever comes my way, I deserve it. I will face this head on. I will not hide from it. I was in the wrong. It was completely unacceptable behavior from a man in my position. What happens, I will face.”
McGregor’s bad behavior stretches back much further than this incident in April.
He also was arrested in Miami back in March after he grabbed a phone away from a person taking a photo of him and then smashed it on the ground. McGregor then took the phone before leaving the scene.
While criminal charges were later dropped, McGregor still owned up to his actions that night, which initially ended with him being led away in handcuffs.
“I seem to get into great spaces and in that Miami trip, I was preparing for battle. I brought my mother out, it was her 60th birthday, we brought the whole family out and then the situation arose,” McGregor said. “I need to stop reacting to the bait.
“People are trying to bait me into things. Am I the fish or am I the whale? I must be calm. I must be zen. I must lead by example. There’s so many people looking up to me. How can I react in this way? I need to get a hold of this and I’m working very hard to do this. I’m taking the necessary steps to do this and I’m on a great trajectory.”
Because of these repeated incidents, McGregor has faced a mountain of criticism from his fellow fighters as well as his boss, UFC president Dana White, who have all spoken out about his behavior in recent months.
“I deserve to be called out on that behavior. It’s just unacceptable,” McGregor said. “There’s no excuse to it. I deserve everything that comes my way with it.”
McGregor added that it hurts him “to his soul” that he let the fans down by these repeated incidents and he’s taking the necessary steps in his personal life to ensure it never happens again.
Obviously, the 30-year old Irishman has seen plenty of cautionary tales in the past of athletes who become rich and famous only to waste it away with a string of bad decisions that sometimes leave them in serious legal trouble or destitute after frittering away the money they’ve earned.
McGregor never wants to go down that road.
“I feel like sometimes I feed into it and I give it fuel,” McGregor said. “I’m in a position that not many fighters, very few, I can make this generational. I can either be rich and spoiled and blow it all in this generation and leave it all behind in ruins or I can get my head together and build it and make it generational. The children of my children’s children. If I have this opportunity before me, if I don’t execute this and get this right and make this happen for the children of my children’s children, all of my success, everything I have achieved will be void, it will be meaningless to me.
“I must get this right. I must not go down that path. The written path, the cliché of the fighter that has it all. I need to be aware of the past of other individuals and learn from it and grow and that’s what I’m doing. That’s what I’m working hard to do every single day.”
McGregor hopes that it’s not too late for him to be redeemed and that’s why he’s making promises now to stop putting himself into these unfortunate situations where he’s doing more harm than good when it comes to his reputation and legacy.
“I’m just going to carry on being. I know who I am as a human being,” McGregor stated. “My people know who I am as a human being and what kind of father I am, what kind of son I am, what kind of brother I am, what kind of friend I am. That’s it. I will just focus on being a good human being and not worry too much about that. If it is, it is, but I do not believe so. I will earn it back. I am eager to compete.
“I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect. The things that made me the man I am and that’s what I will do.”