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Liam Neeson dismisses Conor McGregor as a ‘leprechaun’ who has given Ireland ‘a bad name’

Liam Neeson also took aim at mixed martial arts, comparing it to a bar fight.

Liam Neeson

Garrett HarganBelfast Telegraph

Oscar-winning actor Liam Neeson has said UFC fighter Conor McGregor gives Ireland “a bad name”.

The ‘Notorious’ has become one of the most famous and successful athletes on the planet since making his UFC debut in 2013.

Prior to that he made his name in the Cage Warriors promotion.

The 34-year-old is one of few men to win UFC titles in different weight classes.

Although on the sidelines through injury, he remains the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw and is anticipated to return this year with the promotion hoping to have him front The Ultimate Fighter series beforehand, potentially alongside lightweight contender Michael Chandler.

McGregor also sold millions of pay-per-views in a crossover boxing fight against the undefeated Floyd Mayweather.

A proud Irishman, McGregor has carried his nation’s flag with him throughout his career but according to 70-year-old Neeson, he has not represented their shared homeland well over the years.

The Taken star told Men’s Health: “That little leprechaun Conor McGregor, he gives Ireland a bad name. I know he’s fit, and I admire him for that. But I can’t take it.”

Neeson didn’t just have bad things to say about McGregor, the Northern Ireland native also took aim at the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) by comparing it to two men fighting in a pub.

He said: “UFC I can’t stand. That to me is like a bar fight.

“I know the practitioners are like, ‘no, you’re wrong — the months of training we do.’ Why don’t you just grab a beer bottle and hit the other guy over the head?”

McGregor has not competed inside the UFC octagon since fracturing his tibia and fibula during his third fight with bitter rival Dustin Poirier in July 2021.

That was the first time McGregor has lost two fights in a row.

Despite the injury it has prompted many to question whether he is the same fighter after so much time out of the octagon.

The Dubliner has bulked up during his time off as he was cast in a leading role in a remake of the film Road House.

It is believed when he returns to fight in the UFC later in 2023, he will compete in the welterweight division, having won his belts at featherweight and lightweight.

McGregor must undergo United States Anti-Doping tests before he can book a return opponent and has previously claimed this process will begin in February.

In recent times McGregor took exception to comedian/radio DJ PJ Gallagher after an American sports presenter mistakenly named McGregor as one of the “top five active UK fighters in the UFC”.

When it was pointed out that he was Irish, she quickly rectified her mistake but Gallagher commented, saying: "Normally this kind of thing winds me up but they can have this lad."

McGregor received criticism for insults directed at Mr Gallagher, which made light of mental health issues.

When legendary Irish footballer Paul McGrath then labelled the UFC fighter a “bully”, McGregor took aim at McGrath for his well-publicised battle with alcoholism.

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