Anik: McGregor's Antics Not Scripted

UFC is real, Jon Anik said, and Conor McGregor's actions are "a huge black eye" for the sport

Tiki and Tierney
April 06, 2018 - 4:37 pm

USA Today Images


Conor McGregor was arrested after becoming violent at a UFC press conference Thursday, and none of his actions – including his decision to throw a guardrail at a bus – was planned. 

“It was not a stunt,” UFC commentator Jon Anik said on Tiki and Tierney. “It’s obviously something that us UFC guys are very sensitive to because everything about our sport is real. Now, there is a backstory here. The Russians and the Irishmen have legitimate animosity towards one other. This rivalry between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov has been brewing.”

Nurmagomedov and one of McGregor's cronies, Artem Lobov, apparently had an altercation earlier this week.

“I think that is sort of what facilitated Conor McGregor’s actions,” Anik said. “They felt like they maybe needed to retaliate and get Artem Lobov’s back. I don’t know if he was sober or what, but he had some minute of time where he felt like this would be a good decision. But there’s nothing promotional about it. A fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to be massive. It didn’t need (this incident) to build up that fight.”

Lobov was pulled from UFC 223, while lightweight Michael Chiesa and flyweight Ray Borg suffered glass-related injuries and are unable to compete Saturday.

“It’s a disappointing reality that Conor McGregor singlehandedly, with his guys, was able to take two or three fighters off of this fight card and prevent them from competing,” Anik said. “It’s just a huge black eye.”

That black eye extends beyond the MMA world. Indeed, McGregor’s antics have made national and international headlines.

“This is resonating with a lot of people and a lot of mainstream sports fans that weren’t all that familiar with Conor McGregor,” Anik said. “I think a good chunk of those people believe that this was promotionally something that we put on to build a fight. So for us, there is obviously a lot of frustration. I’ve spent a good chunk of my professional life trying to defend this sport against those that compare it to something like the WWE that is scripted with predetermined outcomes. 

“So yeah, this is something that we can’t really afford,” Anik continued, “and when it happens in our biggest fight weekend of 2018 to date in the Big Apple, it makes things worse. Hopefully Conor can issue some sort of public apology to the fighters like Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg, who got glass in their head and eyes, respectively, and aren’t able to compete so he can at least address those guys and try to move forward.”

Dana White stripped McGregor of his 155-pound belt this week, as he has not fought for UFC since November 2016. Anik believes that McGregor, 29, still has a lot left in the tank.

“I think for him, he does care about mixed martial arts,” Anik said. “He does care about his legacy. He does want to compete on the greatest proving ground in the sport again. If that’s going to happen, he’s going to have some mending to do with Dana White, and I got to think as soon as the court thing is done, he’s got to start on that process.”

Anik could see McGregor fighting Nate Diaz or Tony Ferguson later this year but doesn’t envision a UFC-style rematch with Floyd Mayweather.

“I don’t give that much steam,” Anik said. “I just don’t see Floyd competing in an MMA setting.”

But make no mistake: Anik doesn’t think McGregor is done.

“I just don’t know that Conor wants to be feet-up in retirement thinking about the what-ifs of his MMA career,” he said. “I think he really sees it, despite what his bank account looks like, as unfinished business that he would like to start finishing.”

Either way, Anik hopes that McGregor exercises better judgement in the future.

“I’m going to spend most of my career defending the UFC against these people,” Anik said, referring to sports fans who believe MMA is scripted, “and obviously instances like this make that job for me a little bit more difficult.”