Having sat out 2022, Gastelum was set to feature in the promotion’s first headliner of the new year at UFC Vegas 67 on Saturday. But as fight week got underway on Monday, news emerged that the former interim title challenger had withdrawn due to a mouth injury.
But after seeing an image of Gastelum’s injured face, McGregor believes there was a much more serious ailment that should have forced the middleweight contender out much sooner.
On his Instagram Stories, the Irishman claimed that a mark on Gastelum’s left cheek is undoubtedly from a staph infection. The bacteria that causes the condition, staphylococcus, can spread to others through close skin contact.
With his diagnosis in mind, the former featherweight and lightweight titleholder laid into Gastelum, branding him a “scruff.”
“Absolute scruff this thing is. That’s full on staph infection all over his f*cking face. A full f*cking hole omg and it’s his second time to attempt to enter competition like this,” McGregor wrote. “Wtf! Clean your mats. Wash yourself. F*cking go to the doctor! Scruff.”
The topic of staph in MMA arose last year when heavyweight Ilir Latifi admitted to fighting with the infection at UFC Vegas 61. The concerning admission came after he’d gone the full three-round distance in a grappling-heavy affair against Aleksei Oleinik.
In the aftermath, “The Sledgehammer” was condemned and investigated by the NSAC, with the commission later handing the Swedish fighter a three-month suspension for failing to disclose the medical issue.
McGregor’s Comments Mark Déjà Vu For Gastelum
While there’s been no suggestion from either Gastelum or the UFC that he was heading towards a main event with a staph infection, if true, it wouldn’t be the first time that the middleweight contender has done so.
In 2019, Gastelum was scheduled to challenge then-champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 234 in Australia. Prior to the hometown favorite’s withdrawal due to a hernia, talk had emerged surrounding Gastelum possibly suffering from staph.
The Californian later admitted having the infection but insisted that it wouldn’t have prevented him from fighting. In a tweet, McGregor slammed that mindset, noting how “ludicrous” it was for the UFC to clear him to compete, as well as allow him to interact with fans inside the arena.
That sentiment was also shared by welterweight Colby Covington, who branded Gastelum a “filthy animal” in a tweet of his own.
What do you make of Conor McGregor’s remarks following Kelvin Gastelum’s UFC Vegas 67 withdrawal?