At UFC 229 on Oct. 6, 2018, Khabib Nurmagomedov set out to defend his UFC Lightweight Championship from former number one ranking lightweight mixed martial artist Conor McGregor.
The fight itself was rather brutal, Nurmagomedov pinning McGregor several times and tangling his legs to keep him from getting up. A strong punch in the second round also almost fell McGregor; his knees almost crumpled beneath him.
McGregor had a few good moments as well, especially in round three, when he stopped the most takedowns and landed most of his good hits for the fight.
Round four proved Nurmagomedov superior when he beat McGregor with a Rear Naked Choke causing McGregor to submit the championship.
Overall, the fight was entertaining enough, deservedly being the main event of UFC’s biggest Pay Per View event in history. Both fighters gave their all for the lightweight championship belt, resulting in a satisfying fight for the competitors and audience.
Until Nurmagomedov leapt over the Octagon and began to fight McGregor’s coach Dillon Danis. Chaos broke lose as security moved to separate the two; while at the same time still within the Octagon, two of Nurmagomedov’s teammates and McGregor began to fight. People poured into the Octagon trying to keep Nurmagomedov and McGregor apart, as well as to stop the fighting that had sprung up. Eventually, McGregor was escorted from the Octagon.
President of UFC Dana White refused to reward Nurmagomedov his championship belt live during the event in an attempt to prevent the crowd from throwing things at the fighter in the Octagon and as he left.
After the event, the two teammates who had jumped McGregor were arrested and Nurmagomedov’s 2-million-dollar paycheck was withheld. Dillon Danis may also have received a concussion from the short tiff with the Russian champion.
McGregor decided not to press charges on the two arrested, as he also threw punches, and they were released soon after.
However, Dana White had pledged in a post-fight interview, “The guys who jumped in will never fight here again.” He claimed that mixed martial events should not be like the rumble given at UFC 229, and he’d worked hard to promote the sport.
After learning that his teammate Zubaira Tukhugov may be permanently suspended, Nurmagomedov, who had initially apologized for his actions during the fight, took to Instagram to call out the injustice of the idea. He posted a direct address to the UFC essentially saying that if Tukhugov was suspended, he was breaking his contract with the company and leaving.
He stood by his teammate and questioned why they were being punished when McGregor wasn’t punished by the UFC after UFC 223.
Before UFC 223, McGregor had thrown a dolly through the window of the UFC fighter bus intending to shake Nurmagomedov. In the process, two fighters had to withdraw from their match due to glass related injuries. While McGregor was arrested, he took a plea bargain leaving him with no criminal record and only a slight hiccup towards his return to the Octagon.
Nurmagomedov claimed that he didn’t start the fight, he merely finished what McGregor had started a long time ago; if they were going to punish his team, it was ridiculous that they weren’t punishing McGregor’s; and not only could they keep his money that they were still withholding, they could expect his departure if Tukhugov is fired.
The fight and controversy surrounding it are keeping UFC in the headlines in the days following the event, but not in a positive light. The fans of the sport thank Nurmagomedov and McGregor for a fantastic fight and sit in wait of the final verdict to the fate of all involved and UFC itself. McGregor has fallen 6 spots in the rankings. What will become of Nurmagomedov is yet to be determined.