Veteran mixed martial arts referee Marc Goddard has finally broken his silence regarding his interaction with UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor at the Bellator 187 event over the weekend. Goddard was shoved in the back by McGregor after the finish of the bout between John Redmond and McGregor’s friend and teammate Charlie Ward.
Goddard writes in a statement released earlier today on his Facebook page that he never called an official finish to the bout before McGregor had invaded the cage, and due to the ensuing frenzy he was not able to assess the situation adequately. McGregor quickly stormed the cage at 4:59 of the first round when Ward sent Redmond clattering to the canvas with a hard strike. Thinking the fight was over, McGregor scaled the cage fence and began to celebrate with Ward.
“I was talking only to Charlie Ward at this point and you will see me put my arms between him and Conor McGregor, trying to separate and restore order to notify him to go back to his corner and continue the rest period, I was trying to communicate with Charlie Ward and then trying to tell Conor to leave, it wasn’t done yet,” Goddard said.
“This is when Conor McGregor began firstly his verbal assault in my direction. My only thought at this point was to notify Charlie Ward, and his corner team, of my decision at the time and restore order to the fighting area. Also the condition of [John] Redmond and then subsequently bringing in the [doctor] in the rest period to make a determination. Of course, the ensuing mêlée and confusion had completely prevented that from happening, that is the result of the actions of one man.”
Goddard went on to say that he had not headed toward McGregor and Ward in order to make McGregor leave the cage, but rather to inform Ward that the fight was set to continue. Once Goddard was able to attend to Redmond, he realised that he could not continue and ruled the fight a TKO victory over Ward.
“It is of imperative importance that this point is understood – once I know that I had stepped across and in between the fighters at 4:59 [or anytime for that matter] then the fight is officially over and there is no going back,” Goddard said. “Again at this point, it was categorically clear to me that John Redmond was indeed in no state to continue and the rightful winner was Charlie Ward. Had I been allowed to make my determination without the interference of unauthorized persons in the cage in the first place then the ensuing melee would have indeed not occurred and normal protocol could have ensued.”
Goddard also alleges that McGregor threatened him before later slapping an official while sitting on the cage. “Conor McGregor was then forcefully ejected from the cage, whilst still trying to get to me and continuing his verbal tirade and threats, including “seeing me in Birmingham” [my hometown] Conor McGregor’s threats are of no concern to me,” Goddard continued.
“He then circled outside of the cage and jumped back up on the cage and when a commission official tried to get him down he struck out to him. The video presents all the evidence that is needed.
McGregor has since issued an apology on Instagram but noted that his actions stemmed from concern that Goddard may have allowed the fight to continue despite clearly not being able to continue.
I sincerely apologize for my behavior at last weekends fight event in Dublin. While trying to support a loyal teammate and friend, I let my emotions get the best of me and acted out of line. As a multiple weight UFC champion, executive producer, role model and public figure, I must hold myself to a higher standard. The referee Marc Godard was making a horrendous decision in trying to pick an unconscious fighter up off the floor and force the fight to continue into the second round. Even against the wishes of the said fighters coach. The fight was over. After witnessing my fighter in a fight where the worst happened and the opponent passed away from his injuries on the night, I thought the worst was about to happen again, and I lost it and over reacted. I am sorry to everyone. I sincerely apologize to the Director of the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli, all the officials and staff working the event, Andy Ryan and his fighter John, two stonch ones that put up a great fight every time. That side will always have my respect, and lastly every one of my fans. I love yous all! I’ve always learned from my mistakes and this will be no different.
“I do not wish for any further action to be taken against any party, in particular, Conor McGregor, but ultimately that is entirely out of my hands,” Goddard wrote. “I have known, witnessed and refereed Conor on many previous occasions over the years and watched, even in support of his meteoric rise, speaking publicly [sic] to commend him and offer an insight when others had turned against him. I have known Conor before he was the mega star that he is now, long before he amassed his fame and fortune – the difference being I respected him the same and treated him no different back then.
“The sport of MMA is the bigger picture here and is my primary concern and anyone who knows me, truly knows me, will underline that. As I said on Saturday morning before leaving Dublin – I operate with integrity, belief and values – all of the time, every time.”
Check out Marc Goddard’s full statement here, and let us know what you think!