The biggest match in UFC history? Arguably. The greatest? Not a chance.
However, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s fourth-round stoppage of 'The Notorious' Conor McGregor will never be forgotten after a post-fight melee immediately took the spotlight away from the actual action.
Three members of Nurmagomedov’s team were arrested after a brawl erupted both in and out of the ring once the champion jumped the octagon cage fence and attempted to attack a McGregor supporter ringside.
Putin congratulates Nurmagomedov after McGregor win
The trio were later released after McGregor refused to press charges.
“We have to see what happens with the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” said UFC president Dana White at the post-fight press conference. “Not just the commission, there is going to be fines - God knows what. Can these guys get visas and get back in the country, and I mean Khabib?”
The heated rivalry between the two began following the infamous 'bus incident' in April when McGregor threw a hand truck at a bus carrying several UFC fighters, including Nurmagomedov.
Image credit: Getty Images
Nurmagomedov, whose $2 million prize purse is being withheld, was apologetic for the mayhem, but did not answer questions posed about title fight itself during the press conference afterward.
“I want to say sorry for athletic commission, Nevada, sorry to Vegas,” he said. “I know this is not my best side. I don’t understand how people can talk about I jump over the cage. He talked about my religion. He talked about my country. He talked about my father. He come to Brooklyn and he broke a bus and almost killed a couple of people.
“My father [taught] me you have to be always respectful,” Nurmagomedov continued. “My whole team when I train in California for seven years everybody know who I am, all my friends. Like everybody who knows me, they know who I am.”
McGregor looked out of his element all night with the 30-year-old Russian smothering the Irishman from the start, much to the dismay of the majority of the sold-out crowd (20,034) in attendance at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The challenger, 30, who previous held both the UFC featherweight and lightweight titles, looked outclassed in the standup despite spending the better part of his time off from his last mixed martial arts fight in 2016 honing his boxing skills for his mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr last year. McGregor’s punches lacked zip and sting despite the crowd’s “oohs” and “aahs” with every jab.
McGregor managed to win over all three judges in the third round after losing the first two decisively, with the Irishman appearing dangerously close to be stopped by TKO from the champion’s punches raining down from above in Round 2.
“I told you guys when you put him wrong way he is gonna tap, what happened today?,” said Nurmagomedov. “They called him two-time world champion in two weight classes, but today he tapped.”
While Nurmagomedov moves to a perfect 27-0, McGregor drops to 21-4 in MMA, with three defeats in his last five fights including the Mayweather loss in 2017.
“We’ll see how his plays out,” said White. “Been doing this for 18 years and on the biggest night ever I couldn’t be more disappointed. You know me, I’m usually mad at everything but I’m not even mad, just really disappointed.”
With second-ranked contender Tony Ferguson - who claimed a TKO stoppage of Anthony Pettis in the lightweight match prior to the main event - demanding a title shot with Nurmagomedov, the question of what’s next for McGregor, who just signed a six-fight deal with UFC last month, is more uncertain.
“[Conor] didn’t care about the fight, meaning the fight after,” claimed White, who personally spoke with McGregor after the fight. “He was more concerned about the fight fight. He didn't even press charges. He only cares about losing the fight.”
McGregor’s disclosed $3 million prize purse was originally withheld before eventually being awarded to the fighter.
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