Facing a backlash over comments made during his multicity media tour this week with Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor called any suggestions that he’s racist “stupid” and “ridiculous.” However, the way the UFC superstar chose to defend himself Thursday, in a crude manner on stage at the Barclays Center, may well bring him more criticism.
“Let’s address the race,” McGregor said to the crowd, while promoting his Aug. 26 showdown with Mayweather. “A lot of the media seem to be saying I’m against black people. That’s absolutely [expletive] ridiculous.
“Did they not know I’m half-black? Yeah, I’m half-black from the bellybutton down.
“And just to show that that’s squashed, here’s a present for my beautiful, black female fans,” the Irishman added, before gyrated suggestively. Here is video of his comments (warning: profanity).
McGregor has been accused of racist behavior during this tour, which ends Friday at London’s Wembley Arena. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, in Los Angeles and Toronto, respectively, he taunted Mayweather by saying, “Dance for me, boy!”
After Tuesday’s event, McGregor was interviewed by Guillermo Rodriguez of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” for a segment that aired Wednesday. When asked who would win a fight, himself or “Rocky III,” McGregor paused to try to recall the film, then said, “That was the one [with] the dancing monkeys in the gym.”
On his way to becoming the biggest star in the UFC, McGregor has cut a larger-than-life figure with his bravado and belittling of opponents. His trash-talking has occasionally offended some people, such as when he called Nate Diaz a “cholo gangster from the hood” last year.
In 2015, before a matchup with Brazil’s Jose Aldo, McGregor said, “What I really want to do is turn his favela into a Reebok sweatshop. They work well over there.”
Heading into his 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather called his Filipino opponent a “little yellow chump” and a “midget,” and he said that he would force Pacquiao to make him a “sushi roll.” Mayweather has been accused and charged multiple times with domestic violence, serving a 90-day jail sentence in 2012.
Mayweather claimed Wednesday that he was not offended by the comments his antagonist had made, saying, “A lot of people say that Conor McGregor is racist, but I don’t worry about that.” With a laugh, Mayweather said to TMZ Sports that “we all know there’s only two types of ‘boys’ — a white boy and a cowboy — and I’m neither.”
On Thursday, following the events onstage, the 40-year-old boxer struck a different tone. “Today he came out and he did it again,” Mayweather told reporters.
“I think that [McGregor] disrespected my daughter, disrespected the mother of my daughter, disrespected black women, calling black people monkeys, it’s totally disrespectful,” Mayweather said. “I have a diverse team, a diverse staff, and when I was young, I may have said some things that I shouldn’t have said. But we live, we learn. You don’t say these things when you get to a certain age.”
“You do not disrespect — I don’t care if it’s white women, black women, white men, black men, Asian, Latina or Latino, you don’t disrespect people,” he added. “To get respect, you must give respect. … When [McGregor] gets older, he’ll probably look back and say, ‘You know, I shouldn’t have said that.’”
For his part, Mayweather referred to the shirtless McGregor as a “stripper,” then threw dozens of dollar bills over the Irishman. When McGregor noted that they were all one-dollar notes, Mayweather replied, “Because that’s all you’re worth!”
Not for the first time in this tour, Mayweather also called McGregor a “b—-.” (Warning: profanity in video.)
While taunting Mayweather onstage, McGregor handed him a copy of Jay-Z’s newest album and said, “I want you to take this and listen to it and learn. Learn how to build and maintain a real empire, not a fake empire and when you’re done with it, send it on to 50 [Cent], and when you do, tell ’em Blanco sent you.”
Later, at a news conference, McGregor explained that he was sensitive to the accusations that he was racially insensitive or race-baiting, and he wanted to address the issue in a playful manner.
“That doesn’t sit well with me,” he told reporters. “I’m a very multi-cultured individual. I don’t have any ill feelings toward any — I don’t even see color. I just wanted to say something and have a little bit of fun with it.
“I just wanted to play with it and address it in my own little way. It’s stupid and it’s ridiculous, is basically what I was getting at.”
Maese reported from New York