McGregor says he regrets Brooklyn melee
Mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor expressed regret Thursday for a backstage melee at a Brooklyn arena that saw him caught on camera hurling a hand truck at a bus full of fighters, and he is negotiating a plea deal to resolve criminal charges in the case. The Irish brawler, 29, and his friend, fellow fighter and codefendant Cian Cowley, 25, remained free on bail after a court appearance that went quicker than a typical five-minute round in the UFC octagon. They each face up to seven years in prison on a top charge of felony criminal mischief, but a deal would almost certainly reduce or eliminate their time behind bars. McGregor and Cowley strode into a packed courtroom in tight blue suits, past rows of reporters and other defendants who were waiting for them to finish up so their cases could be called. The duo stood and said little during the appearance. Judge Raymond Rodriguez ordered them to return July 26. “I regret my actions that led me here today,” McGregor said outside court afterward, a departure from his tone in the incident’s immediate aftermath. “I understand the seriousness of this matter and I’m hopeful to get it resolved soon.” Assistant District Attorney Janet Gleeson said the case hasn’t been presented to a grand jury for possible indictment because of the plea negotiations, signalling interest from all sides to resolve the matter swiftly. McGregor cheered Cowley as he fought in Belfast on Saturday and flew with him on a private jet to the U.S. for the hearing. Cowley said after the fight that he was hoping to get the case “out of the way.” McGregor, once the UFC’s simultaneous 145- and 155pound champion, hasn’t fought since the fracas. The UFC stripped him of its 155-pound championship belt in April because he had not fought in 17 months. During that time, McGregor turned to boxing and secured a guaranteed $30 million payday despite losing a highlyanticipated bout last year to Floyd Mayweather Jr. While the Mayweather fight propelled McGregor to No. 4 on Forbes’ list of the world’s highestpaid athletes, he lamented on Instagram last week that he would have been No. 2 if his arrest hadn’t cost him a shot at fighting at UFC 224 on May 12.