MMA star McGregor says he regrets Brooklyn melee

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 26: Conor McGregor stands in the ring after being defeated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. by TKO in the 10th round of their super welterweight boxing match on August 26, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

NEW YORK  — Mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor expressed regret Thursday for an incident backstage at a Brooklyn arena in April that saw him caught on camera throwing a hand truck at a bus filled with fighters.

He is negotiating a plea deal to resolve the criminal charges in the case.

McGregor, 29, and his friend, fellow fighter, and co-defendant Cian Cowley, 25, remained free on bail after a brief court appearance Thursday – the appearance lasted shorter than a typical five-minute round in the UFC octagon. A deal would almost surely reduce or eliminate their time in jail; McGregor and Cowley each face up to seven years in prison on a top charge of felony criminal mischief.

“I regret my actions that led me here today,” said McGregor after the appearance. “I understand the seriousness of this matter and I’m hopeful to get it resolved soon.”

Judge Raymond Rodriguez ordered them to return July 26.

Assistant District Attorney Janet Gleeson said the case hasn’t been presented to a grand jury for possible indictment because of the plea negotiations. Cowley echoed McGregor’s interest to resolve the matter quickly, after his fight in Belfast Saturday, that he hoped to get the case “out of the way.”

McGregor hasn’t fought since the April melee. He was stripped of the UFC’s 155-pound championship belt in April due to the fact that he had not fought in 17 months. During his spell from the UFC, McGregor tried his hand at boxing and earned $30 million in a loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. last August.

The UFC star lamented that he would not be able to ascend to No. 2 on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid athletes in the world from his current position of No. 4. His arrest cost him a shot at fighting at UFC 224 on May 12.

“Something came up however,” he wrote on Instagram last week.

McGregor was caught on camera attacking the bus in a Barclays Center loading dock after a press event ahead of UFC 223 with an entourage described by UFC President Dana White as “20 hoodlums that flew in from Ireland.” McGregor and company were allegedly looking for retaliation against the event’s main fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, who had been involved in a skirmish with McGregor’s friend, Artem Lobov.

The video featured McGregor throwing items including garbage cans and the aforementioned hand truck. Nurmagomedov said he had to be restrained from fighting McGregor. Fellow fighters Ray Borg and Michael Chiesa were forced from their matches due to injuries from shattered glass.

White said that McGregor had claimed via text message that it “had to be done,” just before the Irish fighter turned himself into police.

***Associated Contributed to this report***