Like most people when they heard about Conor McGregor’s bus attack on fighters attending UFC 223 media day last week, Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight fighter Michelle Waterson was appalled with what she saw.
As a result of the attack, three fighters were pulled from the event: Artem Lobov, who is McGregor’s teammate and friend was pulled instantly from the card for assisting McGregor in the attack as apparent retaliation for an incident involving himself and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who allegedly slapped Lobov in the hotel lobby days earlier.
Lightweight contender Michael Chiesa was cut on his forehead as result of the glass being smashed from the loading dolly McGregor through at the bus. Chiesa wanted to fight, but was deemed unfit and his high profile fight with Anthony Pettis was scratched.
The final fighter pulled from was flyweight contender Ray Borg, who is one of Waterson’s teammates at Jackson-Wink MMA. Borg was in close vicinity of the attack and suffered multiple corneal abrasions. Borg was taken to the hospital as a precaution and as a result ruled out due to the injury.
The incident couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Borg, who recently became a father to a baby boy. The Borg family had already had their fair share of stress since the birth of their son who had been in the intensive care unit.
In a double blow for Borg, fans accused him of exaggerating his injury, even questioning why he didn’t fight as he was wearing glasses at the time the glass struck him in the eye. To quell further accusations, he even posted a doctor’s note on Twitter that confirmed his injuries.
Waterson attended UFC on Fox 29 media day and talked about the incident involving her teammate last weekend (transcript courtesy of MMAfighting.com).
“I was extremely bummed for Ray,” Waterson said.
“That fight had already gotten pushed back and he just had his baby. His baby was in the ICU. I’m sure he wanted nothing more than to bring home a ‘W’ and a bonus for his family, his brand new family. And for all of that to happen, to me, is really disheartening. I feel like Conor has had the opportunity to build himself, to build his ground, to build his fight career, and has been really successful at it. And for him to do the things that he did was very selfish, in my opinion.
“We are in the sport that, if you have personal beef, you can deal with it and get paid for it, instead of trying to go behind the scenes and wreak havoc among people that have nothing to do with your drama, and affect not only the fighters, the coaches, the fighters’ families, the employees of the UFC, the employees of the arena -- and list goes on and on, right? We just got into New York, and I’m sure the commission is shaking their heads right now, thinking why did we let these fighters come in?”
The concern for Waterson is what example this incident sets for fighters who also want to be noticed in the UFC.
Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White was understandably fuming in the immediate aftermath of McGregor’s actions and by the end of the event he was blase about the whole situation by stating, “There’s a lot worse that goes on in all the other sports, so I’ll take a dolly through a window any day.”
It remains to be seen what punishment the UFC throw at McGregor, although the bus attack will most likely be a good public relations stunt for the organization and the footage caught on witnesses phones will be no doubt be used to hype and promote any potential future bouts involving McGregor and the man he was chasing during the attack.
“What concerns me is if nothing happens to him so that he doesn’t change his ways, that a lot of the fighters will assume that that’s what they have to do in order to gain popularity, in order to gain fame, in order to gain financial stability,” Waterson said. “And I’m sure a lot of the fighters will have no problem reverting to those ways.
“But the thing is, we’re trying to make this a professional sport and we’re trying to allow people to see us as humans and as martial artists, because it is mixed martial arts and a lot of us have that martial arts background, and we have the respect and the honor, and we should have the humility and control, right?
“That’s what martial arts is all about, controlled chaos. And I’ve always looked up to Conor and his ability to control his emotions inside the cage, which is what makes me sad about the whole situation, because I would think that Conor would have the emotional control to figure out a way to use the situation to his benefit in a different way.”
Waterson is currently on a two-fight losing streak and will look to right the ship against Cortney Casey on the main card at UFC on Fox 29, which takes place at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.