A Miami Heat mascot was reportedly taken to hospital after being punched by Conor McGregor at an NBA game.
The publicity stunt that appears to have gone wrong happened at half-time in a game between the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets.
Burnie the mascot, dressed in oversized gold boxing gloves, was floored by a left hook from Irish mixed martial artist McGregor.
The former UFC champion delivered another punch as Burnie lay on the ground before the mascot was dragged off the court by three people.
McGregor sprayed Burnie from a black bottle as the mascot was dragged off – with the stunt promoting a pain relief spray.
It was later reported the person inside the mascot suit was taken to the emergency room of a nearby hospital for treatment.
The Miami Heat said the employee, who was not identified, received pain medication and was resting at home.
UFC president Dana White questioned the practice of mascots taking punches from “professional fighters”, saying it “doesn’t seem like the brightest thing in the world”.
In 2018, former world heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder was invited to show his punching power on a hotdog mascot and reportedly broke the costume-wearer’s jaw.
Asked about the McGregor incident at a post-fight news conference, White said he had seen both incidents and asked: “What do you expect?”
“What’s up with mascots getting punched in the face by professional fighters?,” he added.
“What are those mascot things made out of? Unless you’re like the Golden Knights mascot…with a metal helmet… I wouldn’t have professional fighters punch me in the face if I was a mascot, doesn’t seem like the brightest thing in the world.”
Burnie is described as a “rough, anthropomorphic depiction of the fireball featured on the Heat’s logo”.