Conor McGregor was criticized for what many felt were racially insensitive remarks during the first three stops of the world tour to promote the Aug. 26 fight.
It was Floyd Mayweather, McGregor's opponent, who swung square into offensive territory as the four-stop worldwide tour to promote their bout concluded at SSE Arena at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday. Mayweather used an anti-gay slur during a rant against McGregor, UFC's lightweight champ.
After Friday's press conference, McGregor explained that he felt the use of the slur was no big deal.
"I actually didn’t even hear that," McGregor told MMAjunkie. "People are so touchy on words. It’s absolutely crazy. If he said that, I couldn’t give a (expletive)."
The remark drew a rebuke from Showtime, the broadcast partner for the pay-per-view fight.
“It was an offensive remark that has no place at this event or anywhere else," Chris DeBlasio, a spokesperson for the network, told USA TODAY Sports in an email.
A message left with Mayweather Promotions was not returned on Friday.
The slur was quickly condemned by LGBT activists in the sports community.
"Athlete Ally strongly condemns the homophobic slur used by Floyd Mayweather," Hudson Taylor, executive director of the LGBT group Athlete Ally, said in an email. "Resorting to homophobic and racial epithets is shameful no matter how or why one uses them."
Brian Kitts, co-founder and president of the You Can Play Project, told USA TODAY Sports fighters promoting an event should be viewed no differently than athletes in other sports.
"Athletes have to realize that this diminishes the beauty of their sport, whether they are in hockey, basketball or fighting," Kitts said in a phone interview. "They are doing a disservice to not just their gay fans, but all their fans. You don't accomplish anything by using anti-gay or racist language."
Words matter. Language matters. Don't chalk this up to "fighting words" or "the heat of the moment." This is not acceptable. https://t.co/do1BJgJWOz— The Chris Mosier (@TheChrisMosier) July 14, 2017
I wouldn't spend a dime on this #MayweatherVsMcGregor fight. Two very poor human beings.— Anthony Nicodemo (@coachNicodemo) July 14, 2017
McGregor, for his part, used the term "juice head monkey" directed at Mayweather's bodyguards.
“The (expletive) is now over,” McGregor said at the end of his remarks. "Six weeks, I’m going to sleep this (expletive) and bounce his head off the canvas.”
The crowd turned once Mayweather took over.
"Sit down, shut up," the crowd chanted.
Mayweather, however, wasn't thrown off his game.
“We are some smart Americans,” Mayweather said as he leaned in toward UFC President Dana White. “You are right here, running with a quitter, but I forgot. You’re a pimp."
The slur came in the final few minutes of his remarks.
The world tour to promote to the bout began in Los Angeles on Tuesday and included stops in Toronto (Wednesday) and New York (Thursday).
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