An English tourist has challenged Irish professional mixed martial artist and boxer Conor McGregor to a Miami-Dade Circuit Court battle, filing a lawsuit Thursday over an incident at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
Ahmed Abdirzak was leaving LIV Nightclub at the luxury hotel in the early hours Monday when he saw McGregor approaching and tried to snap a picture. But McGregor, who wasn’t in the mood for a close-up, grabbed the fan’s arm with one hand and slapped his smartphone into the air with the other before stomping on it, according to the lawsuit.
Celebrity news website TMZ broke the story with video footage Thursday showing McGregor destroying the phone.
The lawsuit is a second blow for the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight and featherweight champion, who was arrested after the incident and charged with felony strong-armed robbery and misdemeanor criminal mischief.
Coral Gables lawyer Santiago A. Cueto of the Cueto Law Group represents Abdirzak, who he said was shocked by the encounter.
“I’m a fan, my client’s a fan, and it’s just unfortunate that incident took place,” Cueto said.
McGregor’s lawyer Samuel J. Rabin Jr. said he’s received the lawsuit, which he called ”nothing more than a quick effort seeking a payday.” McGregor has not yet been served.
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The minimum jurisdictional amount for damages in circuit court is $15,000, but Cueto said he’ll be seeking more than that, alleging battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Cueto also dismissed the notion that this is a celebrity shakedown, pointing to McGregor’s pending criminal charges over the incident.
“This is not just a minor brush up. This is a felony crime,” Cueto said. “Strong armed robbery is nothing to disregard or to not be taken seriously.”
McGregor was also charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief for instigating a backstage fracas at a UFC event in April 2018. He pleaded guilty and avoided jail time. In October 2018, the Nevada Athletic Commission fined McGregor $50,000 and banned him from fighting for six months after a post-UFC match brawl with opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas.
The way Cueto sees it, many young men and boys look up to McGregor, who could use his celebrity as a “beacon of hope” instead of treating every disagreement as “a potential cage match.”
“It really is about how you act outside the ring, not just in the ring,” Cueto said. “And McGregor seems to think that life outside the ring is no different. I think that mentality needs to shift because he does serve as a role model and that’s the reality of it.”
The plaintiff leaves for London on Monday, according to Cueto, who said his client has received a slew of hateful comments and messages on social media, including “snitches get stitches.”
“Now he’s got to go back to the U.K. where McGregor’s biggest fan base is, arguably, and he already fears for his safety,” Cueto said. “He didn’t chose to be thrust into the limelight, and this has really caught him and his family back home off guard and they’re very worried.”