Ronda Rousey has criticised Conor McGregor in an interview with TMZ Sports, saying the controversial UFC fighter – whom she later referred to as a “friend” – crossed the line to promote his showdown with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Rousey, a former UFC champion and current WWE wrestler, was asked about the possibility of a rematch. Instead, she wanted to talk about McGregor’s vicious attack on a bus carrying UFC fighters in April, a despicable act of violence for which he was arrested.
Rousey’s comments on McGregor
“I understand promoting fights, and having to sell them, I really do,” Rousey told TMZ.
“I get it. But I don’t think people have to get arrested in order to do that. I think I’ve been able to prove that you can make a fight exciting and make people really want to see it without crossing any legal lines.
“I’m just glad both guys are healthy. I’m glad it was a great match. I’m sorry it’s been soured by the aftermath. Their performances aren’t going to get enough credit because of what happened. I just really hope it doesn’t become an ongoing trend. I want people to feel safe bringing their kids to fights.”
After beating McGregor at UFC 229, Nurmagomedov leapt out of the Octagon and incited a post-fight brawl. Rousey was asked whether she thought he, too, had crossed a line, and whether he should be punished. But again, she came back to McGregor.
“If you’re going to draw the line there, you should have drawn it before that,” Rousey said. “Khabib jumping out of the Octagon was not as bad as throwing objects at a bus. Because my friend Rose Namajunas was on that bus. My friend Michael Chiesa missed his fight because he got cut (by the glass from the bus window).”
Rousey’s thoughts on possible UFC punishment
“There has to be equal treatment all the way across the board,” Rousey continued. “I don’t think anybody should get special treatment because they’re a bigger draw. I think the same when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, when it comes to felonies, when it comes to hit-and-runs, or anything like that.
“There’s too much preferential treatment given to the high-profile fighters. There needs to be equal discipline across the board, no matter who you are. Because people are going to start thinking, once they get to a certain level, the rules don’t apply to them.
“I would be much more strict about everything,” she later continued. “I’d say, get popped for steroids once, you’re banned for life. Then again, I’m not the promoter of a multi-million dollar organization.
“From their perspective, you have to think about, when is it not worth it any more? I don’t want the company to be prioritising this quarter over this next 10 years. Like, yeah, they might make more money this quarter because this fight or the next fight did really well. But I don’t want it to get to a point where people are not buying tickets to go see fights live because they’re afraid of what could happen in the arena.”
Rousey says she didn’t even watch the fight
Rousey said she followed the buildup to and aftermath of the McGregor-Khabib fight, but was on a plane during the fight itself.
When asked a second time whether she’d want to see a rematch, she said with a laugh, “I should probably go back and watch the first one.”
Henry Bushnell, Yahoo Sports