Updated: January 16, 2020 3:49:57 pm
By Morgan Campbell and Kevin Draper
The mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor stayed silent on Wednesday when questioned directly about two sexual assault allegations against him in Ireland, his home country.
McGregor, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s biggest draw, spoke at a news conference at the Palms Casino Resort ahead of a U.F.C. welterweight fight on Saturday against Donald Cerrone, his first fight in 15 months.
When a reporter asked about the status of the two investigations, McGregor’s fans, several hundred of whom packed the Pearl Theater at the Palms, booed loudly.
Cerrone intervened to tell the reporter to ask only about the fight, and the U.F.C. president, Dana White, maintained that McGregor had already answered questions about the sexual assault allegations during an earlier interview with ESPN.
When asked whether the investigations, one of which has been ongoing for more than a year, had ever jeopardized McGregor’s ability to compete in Saturday night’s bout with Cerrone, White simply replied, “No.”
In the time since McGregor’s loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in that most recent bout, which ignited a ringside melee, McGregor has been beset by legal problems, including the two investigations of sexual assault allegations and a fine after pleading guilty to punching a man in a pub. At one point, McGregor also announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, only to return months later. It was the second time he had retired and come back.
McGregor, 31, has not been charged in either of the sexual assault cases, and the existence of the investigations does not imply that McGregor is guilty of any crime.
Through a publicist, McGregor has denied all accusations of sexual assault.
The U.F.C. has incorporated some of McGregor’s arrests into its marketing strategy for the comeback fight against Cerrone. A preview show that aired before Wednesday’s news conference included footage of McGregor punching the bar patron, and of the former champion throwing a dolly through the window of a bus containing Nurmagomedov and other fighters. McGregor pleaded guilty to assault in that incident.
At the news conference, McGregor did respond to a general question about his legal issues. “I’ve done nothing wrong here,” he said.
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