Referee Marc Goddard Issues Response to Conor McGregor’s Actions at Bellator 187

Marc Goddard explains what happened in the cage last Friday in Dublin

Veteran referee Marc Goddard found himself at the center of controversy last week in Ireland as he stood as the third man in the cage for a bout between Charlie Ward and John Redmond at Bellator 187.

The altercation occurred at the end of the first round when Ward dropped Redmond with a vicious left hand and it appeared that Goddard was stepping in to stop the fight at which point UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor leapt into the cage.

McGregor is close friends and teammates with Ward and it appeared that he was celebrating the victory before he was apparently ejected from the cage by Goddard, which then sent the Irish fighter into a rage as he stormed at the referee until he was pulled out by security.

McGregor issued his own explanation and apology over the incident on Tuesday and now Goddard has also responded with a lengthy statement about what unfolded in the fight, afterwards and the altercation with the UFC lightweight champion.

“The first 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,” Goddard said on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

“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.”

Goddard continued by explaining that he didn’t purposefully bump McGregor or even attempt to eject him from the cage at that moment but rather he wanted to put the fighters back into their separate corners in case the fight was allowed to continue.

“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,” Goddard said in the statement.

“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 Paul 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?”

Goddard added that not only did he not eject McGregor from the cage, but it was the UFC lightweight champion who initiated the only real contact between the two of them before he charged over, screaming and pointing his finger at the official.

“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,” Goddard wrote.

“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 [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 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 [John] 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.”

In closing, Goddard says that he doesn’t wish any ill will on McGregor for his actions much less believe that he should be punished for what unfolded last Friday in Ireland. Instead, Goddard suggests using McGregor’s behavior as a lesson learned so that officials and fighters will all know what to do the next time something like this unfolds.

“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.”

Because McGregor was essentially a spectator at the event and not a licensed corner man for Ward, it’s unlikely he face any sort of sanctions for his actions at Bellator 187.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.