Referee Marc Goddard has broken his silence just days after an altercation with UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor in Ireland at Bellator 187.
The situation unfolded after Goddard appeared to stop a fight between McGregor’s teammate Charlie Ward and his opponent John Redmond at the end of the first round. Ward landed a hard left hand that dropped Redmond to the mat and Goddard stepped in between the fighters.
A second later, McGregor was storming the cage to apparently celebrate Ward’s victory but it was later revealed that Goddard wasn’t stopping the fight but actually stepping in between the fighters at the end of the round.
McGregor issued an apology on Tuesday for his actions that included putting his hands on Goddard during the melee after he chased the referee, pointing his finger and shouting at him before being forcibly removed from the cage.
Now Goddard has issued his own response to the altercation while explaining that at the time he was stepping in between Ward and Redmond, he believed it was the end of the round rather than the end of the fight and he was attempting to get the fighters back to their respective corners when McGregor’s interference began.
“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,” Goddard explained in a post on his Facebook page.
“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.”
According to Goddard, he attempted to separate the fighters to put them back to their corners while also telling McGregor that he had to get out of the cage because the fight wasn’t officially finished.
Goddard denies ever pushing McGregor but instead he was just trying to get to Ward to let him know that the fight wasn’t over yet.
“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 explained. “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 melee and confusion had completely prevented that from happening, that is the result of the actions of one man.”
After Goddard left Ward, he went over to check on Redmond but unbeknownst to him, McGregor was charging after him, shouting and pointing his finger at the referee.
“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,” Goddard said. “The video does not lie.
“Again at this point I wanted to look at [John] Redmond and had notified his corned that it was not over, I had called for what I had believed to be the bell. Conor McGregor’s 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 [John] Redmond being knocked around by the very people who were trying to ensure his safety and well being.”
Goddard says it was only after that incident that McGregor was finally forcibly removed from the cage, but he was still shouting threats at him as he exited and then paced outside on the arena floor.
“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 said. “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.”
Because McGregor was not a licensed corner man for the fight, he was basically a spectator who jumped into the cage and as such he could have potentially been arrested but it’s going to be hard for him to face any other sort of sanctions.
The Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation was overseeing the event and president Mike Mazzulli said that he addressed McGregor’s actions with the UFC already but his hands were tied as far as handing down any sort of punishment for his actions at Bellator 187.
Goddard says the issue is finished for him and he doesn’t want to see McGregor face any sort of punishment for his actions but rather using the entire situation as a lesson learned to help other fighters and officials in the future.
“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,” 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 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.”