John Kavanagh's comments on Conor McGregor's latest controversy simply weren't good enough
On Monday evening, John Kavanagh made his first televised appearance since Bellator Dublin.
The SBG head coach went on TV3's Six O'Clock Show with his brother James. They engaged in the typical brand of chit-chat you would expect from this type of show. The conversation was light, airy and there were a lot of laughs from everyone involved.
Something extremely rare occurred during the interview. Presenter Muireann O'Connell asked Kavanagh about a hot topic from the combat sports world. It was unusual for a show of this kind, but not unexpected given how Conor McGregor's antics at Bellator gained such mainstream coverage.
When she asked about McGregor leaping into Bellator's "Octagon" and shoving referee Marc Goddard, Kavanagh was presented with a golden opportunity.
Unfortunately, he blew it.
MMA isn't officially recognised as a legitimate sport by Sport Ireland. One of the contributing factors to this is the perception held by some of the non-combat viewing public that it is barbaric. When the world saw McGregor shove a referee and strike another official, the sport's reputation took another knock.
Yet Kavanagh chuckled his way through explaining how McGregor got 'a bit emotional' and went 'a bit over the top' in celebration of his teammate Charlie Ward's victory.
"Charlie is one of Conor's very close friends and he's coming off two pretty devastating losses. He lost fast and hard in both his UFC fights and was dropped by the UFC and then he fought in Bellator. When you're seeing someone who you're that close with... with two bad defeats and then have a great victory in front of his hometown crowd (laughs), he got a bit emotional, went a bit over the top and jumped in."
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 10, 2017
Kavanagh confirmed that Goddard had not actually stopped the fight when McGregor decided to invade the cage. He let out a giggle as he explained that 'in his defence,' it was 'pretty obvious' that John Redmond had been knocked out.
"He didn't realise that the fight had not actually been called. He thought when he knocked the guy down it was over, but it was actually just the end of the round. The fight wasn't over. So the referee was trying to tell him the fight's not over. We thought... it was pretty obvious it was over (laughs) in his defence. But yeah, maybe a little overemotional there. You sort of understand when you know him and Charlie's relationship for the last number of years."
"You see some soccer players when they score goals, they go bananas running around and then some will go like this (raises finger). I have some fighters that will just do this (raises fist) and then I've got... it's funny, Conor wouldn't even do that for his own victory. He gets more involved when it's his teammate's, his friend's victory."
In fairness, you never see a soccer player celebrate by invading the pitch, shoving the referee and then striking a third official. If any professional footballer did that, it would probably be the last time they would appear on a field.
Imagine if someone leapt into the cage and shoved Goddard into Charlie Ward after Abdul Razak Alhassan's right hand sent him face-first into the fence. We sincerely doubt Kavanagh would regale everyone of that tale with such a cheery tone.
Rules are there for a reason. No one, no matter how much money they generate, should be exempt from guidelines that are in place to protect the fighters.