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While most of the focus at January's Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing was on the punishments doled out to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor for their roles in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl and Jon Jones receiving a limited license to fight in the UFC 235 main event on March 2, there is an element of the conversation from that hearing that has since garnered a lot of attention.
During the hearing, commission executive director Bob Bennett said, referencing the way some fighters trash talk at press conferences and the like, this has “become totally unacceptable. There’s not any other athletes that I’m aware of that have spoken in various press conferences in the way Mr. (Conor) McGregor has.”
He went on to say, “We should reign it in,” but also noted, “we have no precedent for (doing so).”
Commission chairman Anthony Marnell jumped in during McGregor’s portion of the hearing saying, “The verbal part of the promotion, in my opinion, has gotten so out of line that it’s embarrassing.”
Marnell later said, “I think we can be as strict as we wanna be. What we don’t wanna do is come in out of nowhere and just do this. What we wanna do is properly discuss it quickly, take feedback, follow the public process, make sure that it’s well documented – what our expectations are – issue a code of conduct policy that’s maybe a little more elaborate, and furthermore encourage our promoters to follow their own code of conduct policy.”
When questioned about the First Amendment's protection of free speech in the United States, Marnell said, “I haven’t thought that far. I guess you can say whatever you want at any time, but that doesn’t mean you should earn a privileged license.”
The issue has since been sliced and diced by those of us in the media, as well as by fighters and fans, who come at the idea of the NSAC reigning in fighter trash talk from all angles.
UFC president Dana White at the recent UFC 235 Kickoff Press Conference in Las Vegas, however, had some definitive thoughts of his own on the matter, calling the idea "insane" and "unconstitutional."