The Nevada State Athletic Commission recently fined UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor $150,000 for throwing water bottles during a UFC 202 pre-fight media event in Las Vegas. The Nevada attorney general’s office had recommended a $25,000 fine, a sum the commission in their wisdom felt was wildly insufficient.
The $150,000 sum represented 5% of McGregor’s $3,000,000 fight purse for the UFC 202 fight with Diaz. McGregor also had to do 50 hours of community service and is required to help launch an anti-bully public service announcement campaign.
The sport, collectively, was not impressed. The fine was viewed as one in a series of significant missteps by a commission once seen as the best in North America.
The NAC tried to ban Wanderlei Silva for a life after he ran from a PED test in 2014, but a judge overturned the punishment, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” There was another hearing, and the suspension was changed to three years, retroactively. The NAC tried to ban Nick Diaz for five years for NOT testing positive for the demon weed marijuana, the fighter fought back legally, and the commission quietly changed the five years to 18 months, retroactively to the date of the “offense.”
“I don’t see Nevada in my future, for the foreseeable future is how I see it,” said McGregor. “I’m free to do what I want. … I’m good. I’m good. New York, New York. That’s what I think.”
“I owned up. I man’d up. I’m here. I apologized. I’m not trying to blame nobody, although they fired the rounds off first. I didn’t think they would even go that route because I didn’t think this was like a real thing. Are they going to come and arrest me or what the f*** is that? I wanted to give them the respect and I felt they would have respected that but they didn’t. So, whatever. It is what it is. Good luck trying to get it.“
Now the commission says there was a misinterpretation of the original fine. On October 10, Steven Marrocco, an impeccable actual journalist, reported for MMAjunkie that, “the commission also put McGregor to work as a celebrity, earmarking half of his money to fund a public service announcement against bullying that he’ll appear in.”
Now on October 16, Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett offered some clarification. Apparently rather than earmarking $75,000 for a PSA, they were fining McGregor $75,000, and Bennett and NAC chairman Anthony Marnell calculated his participation in the PSA as being worth another $75,000.
So the $150,000 fine is actually a $75,000 fine – three, rather than six times what the attorney general’s office had recommended. And in addition it is $75,000 worth of his time contributing to an anti-bullying PSA.
“It appears the media and others got it wrong,” said Bennett. No explanation was provided for why he waited a week to offer the clarification.
Bennett noted that the $75,000 fine goes to the state’s general fund. So there is no “red panty night” windfall for the commission as some have argued. The Executive Director also said he was disappointed about McGregor’s comments, noting that a thrown energy drink had hit someone in the audience and that McGregor was not suspended, nor did he face a criminal or civil case.
“I understand that he’s upset,” said Bennett. “I understand that he commands a phenomenal following and paydays and he’s a world-renowned champ. I get that he’s frustrated — $75,000 is a lot of money. But I think the remark is inappropriate. In fairness to Conor — and I say this with the utmost respect — I just don’t think he understands how the system works when he’s fined.”
“[McGregor] wasn’t suspended, nor were people in either fighter’s camp that participated in this. The Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t go after anybody else. … I’ll be the first to say that we’ve got it right sometimes and we haven’t gotten it right other times. When we don’t, we want to right the wrong.”