For the first time since video emerged of Conor McGregor sucker punching an older man in a Dublin pub, the former UFC champion spoke publicly about the incident.
In a Thursday interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, McGregor took an uncharacteristically contrite tone about the attack while confirming that he indeed is not retired and looking forward to his next fight.
The attack appeared to be over the victim refusing a drink pour from McGregor, who regularly promotes his own brand of whiskey. The incident was captured on video.
“In reality it doesn’t matter what happened there,” McGregor told Helwani.
“I was in the wrong. That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it end the way it did.”
McGregor implied that he reached some sort of agreement with the man before telling Helwani he needs to “get my head screwed on.”
“Although — five months ago it was — I tried to make amends,” McGregor continued.
“And I made amends back then. Still that does not even matter. I was in the wrong. I have to realise that’s not the attitude or behaviour of a leader, of a martial artist of a champion.
“I must get my head screwed on, get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect, the things that made me the man I am. That’s what I will do.”
McGregor said watching the video was like a “dagger into my heart as a young martial artist”.
Police in Ireland are reportedly still investigating the incident.
What’s next for Conor?
McGregor, who hasn’t fought since losing a lightweight title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov last August, has since tweeted that he is retired from mixed martial arts.
He dispelled that notion on Thursday, telling Helwani that he made the pronouncement still feeling the heat and chaos of the emotional loss to Nurmagomedov.
“Sometimes you just need to take a backstep,” Conor said. “Retirement — I don’t think I’d ever retire from this game, Ariel. Never in my life. I will be fighting until the day I go out.”
What that next step in the fight game is remains unclear. He said that he’d like another shot at the title.
A title shot implies he’s eying the winner of the Sept. 7 lightweight title bout between Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
If not a title fight, then who?
But if a title shot’s not immediately available, he sounds ready to get back in the Octagon for whatever fight is available.
“I want my world title back,” McGregor said. “I want that redemption. The camp was incorrect. Knowing the commitment I had in that camp and knowing the performance I put on.
“I’m not gonna wait around. Whoever. If you’re asking me who, whoever.”
Outside of taking on the Khabib-Poirier winner, “whoever” could include Tony Ferguson, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone or completing a trilogy with nemesis Nate Diaz.