Well, Conor McGregor is at it again.
No, not fighting. He rarely does that anymore.
This past weekend during the UFC’s event in Gdansk, Poland, after McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov lost a unanimous decision to Andre Fili, the UFC and other outlets promoted a video of McGregor going fully homophobic during a tirade, dropping the word f***** multiple times.
While the context isn’t entirely clear, it does seem as though the slur is directed at Lobov’s opponent, Fili.
Of course, the context is nearly irrelevant. McGregor felt comfortable using the language with camera’s around and the UFC felt comfortable promoting the material (it was later removed).
So why does this matter?
There’s an argument to be made that because these are athletes who fight in a cage for a living, maybe their actions shouldn’t count against them. Maybe the standards should be a little bit lower.
But if any other athlete was caught on camera doing this, they’d be fined, suspended and who knows what else. For McGregor, it’s just another day as the sport’s most popular athlete.
This behavior is not entirely new for McGregor. In fact, it fits a pattern of misogynistic, derogatory behavior that is unbecoming of a world class athlete—not to mention a new father.
During the summer months, in the lead-up to his fight with boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather, he told Mayweather to “dance for me, boy”, a comment that was taken to be racial in nature. McGregor, ever the gentleman, said that he couldn’t possibly be racist because he’s “black from the waist down.” No, seriously.
This is another example of the UFC’s double standards. Just last month, Fabrício Werdum was made to apologize for his use of the same word, with the UFC saying that Werdum would be taking part in an LGBTQ outreach program. Surely we can expect McGregor to face the same punishment, right? Well, let’s just say that’s highly unlikely.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that UFC President Dana White has also been known for homophobic language throughout his time as head honcho of the company. In what has become an infamous video, White lashed out at MMA journalist Loretta Hunt for her investigative work.
If we don’t hold our athletes to a higher standard, who will? McGregor can have personality, of course. Nobody’s saying he can’t. He can be the complete prick that has made him such a mega-star in the sporting world without using homophobic language.
It’s up to the UFC fan to decide whether or not this behavior is acceptable. We continue to buy his pay-per-view fights by the hundreds of thousands. His merchandise is flying off the shelves. He’s still the biggest star in not only mixed martial arts, but all of combat sports. No one can touch him and he knows it.
Is McGregor an actual homophobe? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, his language is irresponsible in nature and something that both society and the UFC have to police. The UFC has shown a desire to curve the behavior with some of their talent. But numerous others—mostly the superstars—are given a pass.
This type of double standard, however, only makes things dangerous.