Mixed martial arts coach Andy Ryan has said Bellator "wanted that big WWE scene" and deserves to shoulder some of the responsibility for Conor McGregor's recent storm into the Octagon during Bellator 187 on Friday night.
The Notorious was in attendance to cheer on friend Charlie Ward against John Redmond, a member of Ryan's Team Ryano. The coach saw McGregor jump in to embrace Ward and clash with referee Mark Goddard after his team-mate knocked Redmond out, but Ryan defended McGregor, per MMA Fighting's Peter Carroll:
"I honestly feel like the promotion and the commission need to take some of the blame here because they were more interested in trying not to upset Conor than looking after John Redmond.
"John missed out on some attention that he needed because the event security didn’t have a handle on the situation."
Ryan suggested McGregor wasn't treated with the same strictness an average spectator would and added: "I just think the promotions wanted that. They wanted that big WWE scene in the cage. Irish MMA doesn’t want that, but the promotions certainly do."
MMA reporter Luke Thomas provided a breakdown of the incident that unfolded in Dublin:
Luke Thomas @lthomasnews
There's really no defense of McGregor here. Jumped into the cage when he wasn't supposed to. Interfered with referee trying to check on Ward's opponent. Put hands on Goddard in course of doing his job. What'd I miss? https://t.co/wQq89P8XI62017-11-10 19:15:39
A scuffle between UFC lightweight champion McGregor and Goddard broke out after the latter scolded the trespasser for entering the Octagon while the recently knocked out Redmond was still being inspected and the official result determined.
Ward, who trains at John Kavanagh's SBG in Dublin—the same gym often attended by McGregor—finished Redmond with only a second left in the first round, resulting in some confusion as to whether the fight was over.
McGregor's excitement for his team-mate seemingly got the better of him, although The MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani has nodded to another recent example of the fighter overstepping his boundaries:
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
McGregor wasn’t a licensed cornerman, jumped in secs after fight was called off. You’ll recall Goddard scolded McGregor during the Lobov-Fili fight in Poland. Initially thought he was mad about the stoppage, but his friend won. CM seemed upset he was being told to leave.2017-11-10 19:37:07
The Notorious addressed Friday's events in an unapologetic, since-deleted Twitter post, but Brett Okamoto of ESPN reported it read: "Bloke KO'd on floor bout a minute straight and ref trying to say fights not over Conor. That's when I lost it. F--- yous all."
Ryan empathised with the UFC star and admitted "emotions are going to be running high" for McGregor when he'd just seen his friend win via KO, eager to see Bellator step in and admit some fault in the controversy.
One would think one of the most talented mixed martial artists on the planet would have the discipline to oblige Bellator rules, however, even if the promotion was hoping for, as Ryan puts it, some form of WWE pantomime.