How McGregor's rampage went from 'disgusting' incident to a compelling commercial


It’s hard to believe it was only four months ago that UFC President Dana White sat there looking shaken and upset as he described Conor McGregor’s backstage rampage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as “the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the (UFC).”

In hype videos rolled out at a UFC news conference this past Friday, and aired again during the UFC 227 pay-per-view the next night, that “disgusting” act seems to have morphed into a compelling advertisement for the main event of UFC 229.

This was all very predictable for anyone who follows this sport. While White condemned McGregor’s melee, and longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan called it “pathetic” during the UFC 223 broadcast, seasoned observers could peer into the very near future and see its potential as promotional material.

On one hand, it just makes sense. How do you tell the story of this rivalry between McGregor and UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov without including that explosive chapter in their recent history?

Plus, all the good stuff is on video! What do you think the UFC is going to do, just take this WWE-worthy footage and bury it when it comes time to sell the fight?

Then again, how are we supposed to watch video of McGregor attacking a bus filled with fellow fighters and take any of that former outrage seriously? Not only did the UFC do absolutely nothing to punish McGregor for an act its representatives vigorously condemned, now the company has turned the whole thing into a commercial.

This is where the confusion comes in. If you’re a fighter on the UFC roster right now, here’s where you might be watching all this unfold and wondering: Wait, so was this a bad thing or a good thing?

Yes, it set off certain legal entanglements and impending lawsuits. It damaged some property and even some people. So how come no one in power at the UFC is treating it as anything other than good promo material?

And, let’s just admit: It is good material. These images – Nurmagomedov slyly smiling when asked about his confrontation with Artem Lobov, McGregor vowing vengeance and then exacting it on a bus before gleefully skipping out through the loading dock – this is the stuff that sells pay-per-views.

It’s a narrative everyone can understand, and it just so happens to feature both the sport’s biggest superstar and its current top lightweight.

Maybe it would be different if the UFC had done..

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