All the insults about Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s religion, country, and family were condoned, and people ask why he took the match personally?
Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/
Khabib Nurmagomedov kept his unblemished UFC record after submitting Conor McGregor in the fourth round of arguably the best fight in UFC history. But for Nurmagomedov, four rounds in the octagon weren’t enough to settle the dispute between the two camps.
Moments after forcing McGregor to raise the white flag through a brutal neck crank, Nurmagomedov stood up with pride, looked down with fiery eyes at the Irishman who was still in disbelief, walked away, and hurled himself over the cage and dove into McGregor’s jiu-jitsu coach.
Nurmagomedov’s teammates also took advantage of the incident as they climbed into the cage to sucker punch an exhausted McGregor. They were later arrested and eventually released.
That ugly post-fight brawl showed that Nurmagomedov wasn’t facetious nor was he trying to sell their fight when he said that handshakes will not happen after his victory.
Ahead of Nurmagomedov’s title fight against McGregor in UFC 229, he told everyone what he intended to do—slap him, tire him, smash him, change his face, maul him, and make him tap. Nurmagomedov did all that.
Amid all the insults McGregor said about his religion, race, country, and even his father (a “quivering coward”), the lightweight champion kept his mouth shut and released all his rage as soon as the fight started.
The first round was all about measurement and trying to feel each other. The second round however was a totally different story. Nurmagomedov started his rampage as he unleashed a right fist that landed on McGregor’s left cheek, enough to make the Irish fighter teeter backwards. It made McGregor’s thousands of fans bawl in distraught.
Like in the first round, he grappled McGregor against the cage, only this time, he secured his position and started to throw punches. This was the exact moment when Nurmagomedov pushed back all the disrespect he received from McGregor, including the infamous bus attack last April when McGregor threw a dolly into the bus window, injuring and cutting Nurmagomedov’s teammates and several others who had nothing to do with their beef.
With 46 seconds left, McGregor somehow survived as he picked himself up and gazed at Nurmagomedov. In the third round, McGregor found his pace as he landed a couple of his signature strikes. Nurmagomedov tried to tackle him down again, but the challenger was able to stop it from happening.
Come the fourth round, McGregor was still hitting his mark on the frame but later on, Nurmagomedov regained control to finish what he had started. He swiped off McGregor’s leg and choked him. And just like that, McGregor’s first MMA match in two years ended dramatically. Khabib was having none of it.
However, instead of people talking about how Nurmagomedov successfully took over McGregor’s limelight, we’re all wondering whether the Russian will rise up again in the octagon. His and his teammates’ actions after the fight put his remarkable career in jeopardy. Though based on Twitter reactions, Nurmagomedov seems to have also won more fans for standing up for what he believes is right.
“He talk about my religion, he talk about my country. He talk about my father. He come to Brooklyn and he broke bus. He almost kill a couple of people. What about this shit? Why are people talk about I jump over the cage? My father taught me you have to always be respectful… You cannot talk about religion. You cannot talk about nation,” Nurmagomedov said in a post-fight press conference.
After instigating the brawl that left a sour note on the best fight of his career, Nurmagomedov received flak from various notable personalities—that he’s a disgrace to the sport, he’s a criminal for assaulting McGregor’s coach, and he destroyed his reputation. But if we put ourselves in Khabib’s shoes, we can somehow understand where he was coming from. After all, the UFC tolerated McGregor’s behavior in Brooklyn and even used his acts as promotional fodder.
For the sake of generating an absurd amount of revenue, the UFC isn’t and was never bothered by using disgraceful incidents to sell a fight. Nurmagomedov had to swallow all the insults against his country, religion, and family to hype up a match. He had to endure all of it, and people still had the audacity to ask why he took it personally?
McGregor has always been cocky. He’s the type of fighter who would never think twice about crossing the line to promote a fight effectively. And that attitude has really done UFC good. In his 10 years of exchanging punches in the octagon, McGregor has become the highest paid fighter with over $9 million in earnings. During his bout against Eddie Alvarez in UFC 205, UFC earned an all-time high of $17 million in gate attendance—pay-per-view sales not included. And last night, UFC broke that record after claiming its biggest gate attendance earnings of $17.18 million. The common denominator? McGregor was present in both events.
These numbers alone may justify why Dana White loosely allows McGregor, who guarantees a huge profit, to play with fire without consequences. But is insulting someone’s family and disrespecting religion really an acceptable way to sell a fight? McGregor did what he usually does, only this time, he successfully sold a fight he cannot win.
Matters like these have always been present in the game. In fact, building tensions between both camps has become an effective way of garnering interest from the audience. But the whole Khabib-McGregor bout was on a different level. When you talk trash about someone’s family and get tolerated for hurting innocent people, that is out of line in so many ways. So why would people put all the blame on a fighter reeling from so much rage? If anything, UFC also needs to wisely plot its promotional practices and command its control over the fighters.
Moreover, White was acting like last night’s incident is a hurdle that’s hard for them to recover from when, in fact, all those ugly scenes just drew more interest among people wanting to see a rematch. In short, more money is on the line.
Nurmagomedov already made amends with Nevada Athletic Commission and apologized, but they still withheld the Russian’s prize money. On the other hand, McGregor didn’t file any charges on his opponent’s team and even expressed his eagerness for a rematch.
We still don’t have any idea about Nurmagomedov future in the UFC. But one thing’s for sure, if he ever gets back, it will be as just huge as his fight against McGregor. Only this time, he’ll be seen as either respectable man or a villain—depending on which side you’re on.