Referee Marc Goddard today released a lengthy statement about what happened with Conor McGregor in the cage at Bellator 187.
After a couple of days of downtime and reflection I would like to offer some clarification on the events that unfolded in the fight between Charlie Ward & John Redmond at Bellator 187. As per usual there is much assumption and conjecture so allow me to clear the up the facts and put to bed the inaccuracies.
The 1st round was progressing and passing without incident and subsequently my involvement. As the round drew to a close the 10 second warning sounded and that was heard and acknowledged by me. Soon after Charlie Ward connected with a left hand that slumped John Redmond to his knees. At this exact point I could not and had not made my determination that John was either out of the contest or not in the position to intelligently defend himself.
The punch and action that followed naturally resulted in a surge of crowd noise, one that was so significant I had already made my determination that I could not audibly hear the bell sound for the end of the round, I had made my decision to step in with the belief that bell had indeed been sounded, when in actual fact it had not. This is a critical fact to the ensuing proceedings.
At this point on my step in, and you will clearly see from the video replay that I only step across and do not wave the fight off. Charlie Ward, understandably so had reeled off in celebration thinking that I had indeed ended the contest and not as I had actually done, called time on what I believed to be the end of the round. Two distinctly different endings.
At this point Conor McGregor, who had once again been stood for the entire duration of the round in close proximity of the cage had taken my intervention, wrongly, as the end of the contest and proceeded to jump the fence to enter the fighting area to congratulate what he believed to be his team mates victory. At this point again my immediate concern was John Redmond who was still on his hands and knees and not in a position to look up and at me, please remember at this point I had still not officially called a stop to the contest.
John Redmond was moving and still in an obvious daze from the concussive blow. At this point, due to the ensuing confusion and people in the ring who shouldn’t be, I had still not decided that Redmond was out of the contest and that I has stepped in to stop the fight for what I had ultimately believed to have been the bell sound. Had I have had the chance to look and assess the condition of Redmond, even in real time to ascertain should the fight be stopped then I would naturally have done so, of course I did not.
As I see Conor McGregor in the ring – this is the ONLY reason that I approach Mr Ward. Conor is of zero concern to me at this point, he “happened to be there” [wrongly] and my intention again as you will clearly see from the video is to approach Charlie to let him know that the fight was not at that point officially over, that he should return to his corner and wait for my assessment and call. Had I indeed ended the bout then the fact Conor McGregor was in the ring would have been of zero concern to me and I wouldn’t even have approached them. I would have no need to.
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. 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 Dr 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.
Still at this point I had no dialogue with the official timekeeper as order and control was trying to be kept in the cage. I will make zero allowance for what people believe to be a referee’s intervention and not a security or commission representative’s job. Know this – when a fight is in swing and in the fighting area then as long as that is going on and the relevant parties are present and involved then it is my responsibility to provide the over-riding authority, it always had/has and it always will be so please allow me to first make that categorically clear. Whilst those combatants and all who surround them are within the fighting area both before during and after the contest then they will and they are under my jurisdiction – make no mistake about that fact. So to the people who think and believe otherwise then you are categorically and wholly wrong. When I referee it is my area and I will control it.
So to all of you out there who wrongly assumed that I approach Charlie to eject Conor then you are sadly mistaken and plain wrong, the only reason I approach is to tell Charlie to Go back to his corner as the fight was not over. It’s called restoring order and gaining control – who else was going to do it?
People have a strange habit, particularly in highly charged and emotional affairs such as MMA contest’s of seeing and believing what indeed has not happened. There has been the notion and belief of the fact that I had pushed Conor McGregor when this factually and categorically untrue – please again watch the video and you will see very clearly that I have my arms in between Charlie and Conor whilst trying to tell Charlie to return to his corner and let me make my determination, pushing fighters, or anyone unnecessarily so is simply not in my nature, or protocol of conduct to do so. It is then again, clearly, that you will see Conor McGregor who put his hands on my chest to shove me, I then turn and walk away to go back and check on the condition of John Redmond.
Immediately behind me Conor McGregor is running after me, incensed that the fight was not yet officially ruled over, trying to get round a commission representative, this is unbeknown to me and again if you look at the video he then breaks free of the commissioner and round into my back, it was a light and insignificant touch of no concern to me but what is of paramount importance here is the facts. The video does not lie. Again at this point I wanted to look at Paul Redmond and had notified his corned that it was not over, I had called for what I had believed to be the bell. Conor McGregors actions and ensuing melee of additional people with and connected to him, again with zero need or authority to even be in the cage, had also resulted in Paul Redmond being knocked around by the very people who were trying to ensure his safety and well being.
It was then that finally, in a second of respite amongst the carnage do I get to see the timekeeper who tells me that bell was sounded one second after I had stepped across. This is when it becomes apparently and easily clear to me that the fight was now officially ruled and over and Charlie Ward had indeed rightfully won the fight, based upon my actions alone.
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. 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. People are mistakenly under the belief that they are entitled to their own opinion and I’m not really up for that train of thought however, we can argue that one, but what you’re never entitled to is your own facts – these will always remain unchanged.
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 any time for that matter] then the fight is officially over and there is no going back. 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. I then notified all concerned and we could conclude the bout officially and satisfactorily. At no point did I attempt to “pick up an unconscious fighter” [he was not unconscious] and of course would never “force the fight to continue”
The important point to note here is that the condition and safety of the fighter trumps any and all other decisions. Their ability to be safely allowed to continue in a contest is only ever called by the referee, the person in charge of that contest and the sole arbiter. When I am unfairly delayed or robbed of that opportunity from outside and external sources it brings not only the sport into disrepute but from my primary role and function of being able to make the right decision, the correct decision that is both safe and fair to the athlete concerned.
I have enjoyed a very good and enjoyable relationship over many, many years with fighters and members of SBGi who have always represented themselves and the team with class and respect. I would like to thank all the team who approached and messaged me directly. I wish you all continued success and good fortune.
Literally thousands of messages received too, I appreciate your support and kind words but this is about MMA not me. I have declined every single media/news request to speak publically, these are my own words. I would like to thank Mike Mazzulli ABC president and the inspectors from the Mohegan Tribe Commission for the support.
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. I hope that the situation can be reviewed, learned from on how we could prevent a repeat instance and then case closed, we move on for the good of the sport.
I have known, witnessed and refereed Conor on many previous occasions over the years and watched, even in support of his meteoric rise, speaking publically 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 of 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.
I apologise in advance for the lengthy statement.
My respect and thanks.