Conor McGregor’s redemption tour began on Thursday with a recorded interview with MMA reporter Ariel Helwani that aired on ESPN.
McGregor, who has fought in MMA just once in the last three years, has become more synonymous with public confrontations than in-cage victories lately. He seems to be cognizant of that trend and wants to end it.
The latest negative publicity came last week when video of him punching an older man at a bar was released. Helwani asked McGregor about what happened.
“What happened was a little hazy for me also and it was many months ago,” McGregor said.
The Irish MMA fighter then declared he wants to turn things around and be a better role model.
“I have been making amends to make it not happen again and to be better — to be a better father, to be a better human, to be a better role model to these kids. I know a lot of kids look up to me. I have to realize that’s not the attitude of a leader, of a martial artist, of a champion. I must get my head screwed on get back in the game, fight for redemption, retribution, respect — the things that made me the man I am — and that’s what I will do.”
Throughout the interview, McGregor took responsibility for what happened in the video.
“I was in the wrong. It was completely unacceptable behavior from a man in my position. … I deserve to be called out on my behavior.”
McGregor was also asked about the incident where he smashed a fan’s phone outside a club in Miami Beach. McGregor expressed that he believes fans bait him.
“I need to stop reacting to the bait,” he said.
The cell phone matter reportedly was settled.
McGregor’s last UFC fight came in October when he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov and then brawled after the fight. McGregor talked about fighting Cowboy Cerrone in the summer, but that did not materialize. In March, the 31-year-old even threatened his retirement, which was later exposed to be a negotiation tactic with the UFC.
As for returning to the cage, which McGregor seems eager to do, he says he would have already fought this year if not for a hand injury. And while he wants a rematch with Khabib, he says he is willing to fight anyone. The interview was probably the first step in his return to the cage and a renewed focus on fighting.