UFC champion Conor McGregor has been outspoken about many things, from his opponents and their "broken vaginas," to basically telling everyone that he plans on "winning every belt." What's rare for the blunt fighter to be outspoken about, with actual sincerity, is the fact that fighters with serious injuries need to take care of themselves for their own health.
The comment might have been overlooked, given that it was quietly sandwiched between "broken vaginas" and a slew of profanity, but it was in there:
“When a man is KO’d unconscious — when a man fights me they need to take 10 months to a year off. You can’t bounce back into a fight — and that’s no joke. ... You can’t take head trauma and bounce back into the gym and spar. These people think they can do that.”
It's safe to assume that "these people" he refers to are the fighters McGregor himself has sent to the mat, but it also applies to everyone else that has suffered the same fate.
One validator of McGregor's statements is Chad Mendes, who returned to the ring just five months after his TKO loss to McGregor. He was then KO'd in the first round by Frankie Edgar and suffered serious injury. An injury McGregor feels that he'll never recover from:
“Mendes did that and now his chin will never recover after the fight. He jumped in too early [against Frankie Edgar] and went at it. You need to take proper time.”
To be fair, the line is a little gray when it comes to the type of injury one needs to sit out for and for how long. McGregor's comments are somewhat peculiar, given the fact that he attacked Rafael dos Anjos for pulling out of UFC 196 with a "broken foot":
“When you pull out with an injury like that — a bruise on the foot — there’s not much else I can do to help you, to bring you back into the mix. They all have sore vaginas lately. It’s crazy, there’s something going on. Dos Anjos broke his foot and his vagina in the same damn day.”
He also joked that if he went under the X-ray machine as of now, any doctor would call him insane for getting in the ring.
Let's be honest, though. There's a huge difference between some broken bones and a few sore muscles, compared to the long-term neurological damage that can occur from repeated blows to the head.
Just ask the NFL.
There are already several possible stories coming from past MMA fighters that they have suffered psychological and neurological damage from years in the sport. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović and Chuck Liddell are suspected of already suffering from dementia pugilistica. Other fighters, like Gary Goodridge, have been vocal about their struggles with brain injuries.
One person that's NOT worried about brain trauma is, well, Conor McGregor. It's no surprise that the champion feels that he's indestructible and won't suffer the same fate, but it's fair to say that at least he cares about those he sends to the hospital. His most recent victim José Aldo (who wasn't able to take the last-minute fight with McGregor) got a little sympathy from the Irish powerhouse:
“I bounced José’s head off the canvas like a basketball. He needs to take a year to a year and a half off and that’s just for his health.”
Given McGregor's frequent reputation for trash talking, it's refreshing to hear a little sympathy from one of MMA's toughest fighters. Long-term side effects of repeated blows to the head are an issue and it's a positive sign when those who have the chance to speak out about it do — even if they don't think it can happen to them:
“You can’t rush into it. If you take head trauma you sit your ass back in the queue and rest and come back healthy.”