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McGregor's MMA pal is caged

Jail: Rising star banged up

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Conor McGregor with  Nikolay Grozdev

Conor McGregor with Nikolay Grozdev

Nikolay Grozdev with John Kavanagh

Nikolay Grozdev with John Kavanagh

Fined: Conor McGregor is mobbed as he leaves Naas District Court

Fined: Conor McGregor is mobbed as he leaves Naas District Court

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Conor McGregor with Nikolay Grozdev

A PROFESSIONAL cage fighter and a member of Conor McGregor's training team has been jailed after being caught driving without insurance for the third time.

Nikolay Grozdev appeared at Naas District Court this week where he was convicted of driving without insurance or a licence last April.

The Bulgarian, who took part in the first MMA fight in Europe after the coronavirus lockdown in June, was handed a five-year driving ban as well as eight months behind bars.

Grozdev has worked closely with McGregor as part of the Straight Blast Gym (SBG) set-up, run by coach John Kavanagh.

He had been stopped near Maynooth in Kildare just two months after receiving a four-year disqualification for driving without insurance in Dublin the previous August.

That came after another four-year ban imposed in 2018 for motoring offences in 2015.

Grozdev made his professional debut as a cage fighter last year in which he showed off his wrestling skills to ensure a comfortable win.

But even before turning pro his fighting abilities were known at SBG and he was regularly part of Conor McGregor's sparring team.

He took part in gruelling sessions with now-retired UFC champ McGregor and enjoyed the perks of travelling with the multi-millionaire Crumlin native.

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Nikolay Grozdev with John Kavanagh

Nikolay Grozdev with John Kavanagh

Nikolay Grozdev with John Kavanagh

In one photo posted on social media, Grozdev poses with McGregor who has his young son in his arms at the Super Bowl event in the United States.

"Always grateful to be with him seeing the world. And seeing the way it should be in this world," posted Grozdev.

Since turning professional in February 2019, Grozdev has established himself as the 46th ranked fighter in the UK and Ireland.

In his third and most recent fight Grozdev took on a Polish fighter who he defeated with a third round submission. The manner of his victory attracted fulsome praise from SBG boss Kavanagh.

"This is one of my favourite fence takedowns," he said and posted a short video clip of Grozdev in action.

For now, Grozdev's career is on hold as he serves his time behind bars.

McGregor is also no stranger to Naas District Court, where he was fined €1,000 and given a six month driving ban in November 2018 for speeding.

The global star apologised in court at the time, saying: "I didn't know I was going that fast," before Judge Desmond Zaidan handed down the disqualification and fine.

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Fined: Conor McGregor is mobbed as he leaves Naas District Court

Fined: Conor McGregor is mobbed as he leaves Naas District Court

Fined: Conor McGregor is mobbed as he leaves Naas District Court

McGregor was caught driving at 154kph in a 100kph zone on the N7 in Co Kildare in 2017 and then failed to pay the fixed penalty fine in time.

Judge Zaidan noted at that hearing McGregor had 12 previous motoring convictions and said he was fortunate he was not charged with a more serious offence.

McGregor pleaded guilty to breaking the speed limit but other charges including driving without a licence were dropped by the prosecution.

A garda gave evidence of stopping McGregor who gave him his parents' address because he couldn't remember his address at the K Club.

"During the course of my dealings with him I found him to be polite and he also apologised for the offence," said the officer in court.

"I spoke to him for about five minutes, I advised him to drive slower. He just said 'I'm sorry', that's all," he added.

Judge Zaidan asked McGregor to take the stand to explain his actions.

"I apologise, I didn't know I was going that fast," he said.

"As the man said, I was polite, I apologised."

Judge Zaidan asked why he had not paid the fixed penalty notice and McGregor replied: "I passed it on to be paid."

McGregor "travels quite a lot" and it had been fully intended to pay the notice, his solicitor explained.

He took the matter very seriously and did not intend for it to "get this far."

The fine "should have been paid" but it was an administrative error, he said.

"Speed kills and that is what makes speed dangerous," Judge Zaidan said.