Conor McGregor is too toxic for anywhere but the UFC

UFC star Conor McGregor may have lost a huge sponsorship deal thanks to '24 hours of hell' in Miami.

By: Tim Bissell | 1 month ago

’24 hours of hell’ in Miami

On June 11, Conor McGregor was trotted out in front of a packed arena during an NBA Finals Game between the hometown Miami Heat and the eventual champion Denver Nuggets. McGregor was there to sell a product (some kind of magic spray) and engage in some hi-jinks to entertain the fans. Neither of those things went to plan.

The first wave of fallout from this event was McGregor laying out the Heat’s mascot in skit that reportedly went too far. In a cliche segment McGregor and the mascot played out a routine which lead to McGregor laying the mascot out with a punch. However, McGregor then followed his downed opponent to the ground and laid in an additional strike, one which looked a little more venomous.

The mascot went to hospital where he was given pain meds. Not a great look for anyone, but not something we haven’t seen before. It seems as though when a fighter enters their midst, mainstream entertainment folks can’t help themselves and need to tackle or grapple someone who resembles their childhood bullies in a safe-space.

The second wave of controversy is far more serious.

A woman has claimed that Conor McGregor sexually assaulted her at the arena on June 11. She claims that McGregor confined her in a bathroom and forced her to perform sexual acts before attempting to penetrate her. McGregor has denied her claims.

Conor McGregor’s antics botched a lucrative business deal

According to Page Six Conor McGregor’s appearance at the NBA game was a prelude to a sponsorship deal between McGregor and the Miami Heat. The deal was supposed to culminate in the Heat repping McGregor’s magic spray on their jerseys next season.

Page Six says that deal is unlikely to happen now.

“This was very bad for an otherwise crystal clean organization,” said a source to Page Six. “I can’t imagine the Heat brass want the Tidl Sports patch on their jerseys — it’s a reminder of the 24 hours of hell the organization went through.”

Trying to make his ‘controversies’ section longer than his ‘achievements’ section on Wikipedia hasn’t hurt McGregor in the fight game. In fact it’s helped. He’s been living his gimmick for years now, parlaying ‘notorious’ conduct into PPV sales.

However, as he’s aged, lost focus and seen his potency inside the cage diminish, he’s cranked up his antics to become more extreme (and desperate appearing). What makes things sadder is that, despite acting wilder than ever, the attention he’s garnering is dwindling.

We’ve seen it here at Bloody Elbow, traffic on Conor McGregor (even when he is accused of rape) doesn’t register much interest. Readers may not have realized this was actually news, since McGregor has been accused of this kind of thing at least three times now. Readers may also not have seen this as a notable incident, because when you see McGregor’s name in a headline now you expect it to be accompanied with something despicable, embarrassing or a mix of both.

Conor McGregor’s toxic brand is at home in the UFC

Conor McGregor’s behaviour has not harmed his standing with Dana White and the UFC (at least publicly). The world’s biggest fight promoter gladly markets McGregor’s acts to sell a fight, to a point. As for the the sex assault accusations, the UFC just sweeps them under the rug. Not a surprise when the company’s president can slap his wife across the face, on video, and receive zero real world repercussions.

The NBA is not the UFC and Adam Silver is not Dana White. NBA players, like most other stick-and-ball players, are actually held to standards of conduct. Now, the NBA doesn’t do that because of a moral obligation. Their code of conduct is just a tool to minimize the visibility of characters who may act in a way that impedes their ability to generate capital.

But even if their rules are for purely commercial reasons, they provide a barrier that characters like McGregor will never crawl over.

McGregor may be one of the richest athletes in the world, through his ventures like Proper Twelve and The Black Forge Inn (which is due to be franchised across the US and Arabian Gulf). But if he expects his brands to attract corporations who actually care about their public image, he needs to think again.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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