Sports

Ugly brawl erupts at UFC 229 after Khabib Nurmagomedov chokes out Conor McGregor

LAS VEGAS — A few seconds after Conor McGregor tapped Khabib
Nurmagomedov’s arm and submitted to the champion’s choke,
Nurmagomedov climbed the cage and leaped at the men in
McGregor’s corner, setting off a prolonged brawl inside and
outside the octagon.

A seminal moment in mixed martial arts was immediately
overshadowed by a tawdry ending Saturday night when the UFC’s
infuriated lightweight champion took his conflict with McGregor
beyond their bout.

McGregor tapped out in the fourth round of his comeback fight
at UFC 229 against Nurmagomedov, who then scaled the cage and
scuffled with another fighter manning McGregor’s corner.
Meanwhile, two men apparently from Nurmagomedov’s entourage
climbed into the cage and attacked McGregor, who defended
himself before security personnel separated everyone.

Order was restored with no apparently serious injuries, but the
scuffles immediately dwarfed one of the biggest and most
lucrative shows in UFC history.

“Been doing this for 18 years, and (on) the biggest night ever,
I couldn’t be more disappointed,” UFC President Dana White
said. “I’m not even mad. I’m just really disappointed.”

Nurmagomedov’s purse has been withheld by the Nevada Athletic
Commission pending an investigation, White said. He also
claimed three members of Nurmagomedov’s camp were detained and
released by police because McGregor refused to press charges
against them.

White acknowledged the UFC might strip its title from
Nurmagomedov (27-0), a Dagestan-born Russian fighter who trains
in San Jose, California.

“If he gets suspended, it depends on how long his suspension
is,” White said. “And if it’s a long suspension, yeah, he’s
probably going to get it stripped.”

Khabib
Nurmagomedov of Russia (R) and Conor McGregor of Ireland (L)
start their UFC lightweight championship bout during the UFC 229
event inside T-Mobile Arena on October 6, 2018 in Las Vegas,
Nevada.
Harry How/Getty Images

Nurmagomedov appeared briefly at a post-fight news conference
after midnight. He apologized to the Nevada State Athletic
Commission, saying the brawl was “not my best side,” but also
condemned McGregor’s barbed pre-fight taunts.

“You cannot talk about religion,” Nurmagomedov said. “You
cannot talk about nation. You cannot talk about this now.”

Nurmagomedov also said he got a congratulatory phone call from
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who “told me he is very proud
of me.”

The wild scene occurred after McGregor (21-4) got caught in a
choke by Nurmagomedov, who punctuated this simmering rivalry
with an impressive victory over the superstar who infamously
attacked a bus carrying Nurmagomedov in Brooklyn last April.
McGregor shattered the bus windows with a hand truck because he
was angry about Nurmagomedov confronting one of his teammates
earlier in the week.

The post-fight trouble started when the Russian champion from
Dagestan stepped away from the prone McGregor and immediately
pointed at the Irishman’s corner, shouting and throwing his
mouthpiece.

The men in McGregor’s corner appeared to respond with taunts,
and Nurmagomedov climbed over the fence and fought with Dillon
Danis, a Bellator welterweight who trains with McGregor.

One of the two men who attacked McGregor in the cage was widely
identified as Zubaira Tukhugov. The Chechen featherweight is
scheduled to fight in three weeks against Artem Lobov, the
McGregor team member who was confronted by Nurmagomedov in
April.

White said if Tukhugov was the man in the ring, he will never
fight again for the UFC.

Nurmagomedov and McGregor both left the ring before the
championship belt could be put around Nurmagomedov’s waist, and
fans in the pro-Conor crowd threw beers and debris at
Nurmagomedov on his way out. White said he feared a melee in an
arena if he awarded the belt to Nurmagomedov.

“I don’t even know what to say right now,” White said. “I’m
just disgusted and sick over it. … We had so much security and
(police) here. I didn’t see that one coming.”

UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is Nurmagomedov’s
teammate at their gym in San Jose, and he calmed Nurmagomedov
after the bout.

“Two wrongs don’t make it right,” Cormier tweeted after the
brawl. “Conor didn’t deserve that. No one did. But some things
aren’t for fight promotion. Religion, family, country. Throwing
stuff in Brooklyn. For Khabib it wasn’t fight promotion, it was
really personal. Diff culture man.”

Khabib
Nurmagomedov, right, is pushed back by referee Herb Dean after
defeating Conor McGregor, bottom, during a lightweight title
mixed martial arts bout at UFC 229 in Las Vegas, Saturday, Oct.
6, 2018.
John Locher/AP Photo

Nurmagomedov and McGregor made no secret of their mutual
loathing in the past few months, and the UFC used footage of
McGregor’s attack on the bus to promote UFC 229, which could be
the bestselling pay-per-view card in UFC history. McGregor
lobbed several creative insults at Nurmagomedov during the
promotion of this matchup, including labeling Nurmagomedov’s
manager, Ali Abdelaziz, as a “snitch terrorist rat.”

McGregor was arrested after seriously hurting two other
fighters with broken glass from the bus attack in Brooklyn, but
Nurmagomedov shrugged it off and won the lightweight title by
beating Al Iaquinta. When McGregor agreed to return to the UFC,
he eagerly accepted Nurmagomedov as his opponent.

Before the post-fight madness, Nurmagomedov firmly asserted his
grappling dominance over McGregor’s striking skill in the Irish
superstar’s first MMA bout in 23 months. McGregor hadn’t been
in a fight since losing his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather
last year, and Nurmagomedov proved an insurmountably tough
opponent for his comeback.

McGregor’s dislike for Nurmagomedov likely fue;led his decision
to take a fight that created a difficult stylistic matchup for
him. McGregor’s strength is his striking, while Nurmagomedov is
one of the most dominant grapplers in UFC history.l

Four security guards separated the fighters while they didn’t
touch gloves before the bout, and Nurmagomedov went for a
takedown in the opening minute while dominating the opening
round.

You’ve got these two knuckleheads over here making the sport
look bad

Nurmagomedov staggered McGregor with a right hand early in the
second round, but McGregor got up and landed a flying knee.
Nurmagomedov made another takedown and steadily improved his
position throughout a dominant round, eventually standing and
raining down blows on the prone McGregor.

Nurmagomedov decided to stand and strike with McGregor in the
third round, apparently unafraid of McGregor’s famed power.
McGregor landed several significant shots, but Nurmagomedov
took them and eventually reasserted control against the cage.

McGregor did decent work in the fourth round before
Nurmagomedov got control, climbed on McGregor’s back and
finally submitted the former two-division champion.

All three judges’ scorecards favoured Nurmagomedov 29-27, with
the champion winning the second round 10-8 on all three cards.
McGregor won the third round on every card.

Before the main event, former interim 155-pound champion Tony
Ferguson staked his claim to be the next contender for the
lightweight belt with a thrilling stoppage victory over Anthony
Pettis. Even Ferguson realized that anything he had done
wouldn’t get much attention.

“You’ve got these two knuckleheads over here making the sport
look bad,” Ferguson said. “What I’m doing is cleaning up the
sport. They want to be animals in there? I’m the dogcatcher.”

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close