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By now, most have heard about the chaos that ensued following Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor‘s title fight at UFC 229. Nurmagomedov dominated the much-anticipated match, submitting McGregor by rear-naked choke in the fourth round after out-grappling him for the vast majority of their time in the Octagon. It was an impressive victory, but it’s what he did next that’s making headlines.
Moments after McGregor tapped out, Nurmagomedov evidently felt that clinching the win to retain his lightweight championship just wasn’t enough. He scrambled over the cage walls and jumped right out into the crowd, where he incited a brawl between the two camps—McGregor himself even got sucker-punched by one of Nurmagomedov’s teammates. It was chaotic, and a shocking move from Nurmagomedov, who’s typically a respectful, humble fighter.
The MMA world isn’t happy about the lack of respect displayed that night, but Nurmagomedov and his team claim their actions are justified because McGregor took his trash talk too far.
To understand the post-fight brawl, you need to know about the events that got us to UFC 229. The fighters had battled it out on social media a few times over the course of McGregor’s hiatus from the UFC. At one point, McGregor tweeted that Nurmagomedov was “dog shit” and insisted that he beg him for a title shot.
That Dagestani was dog shit the other night you's are all nuts. Game full of sloppy bums asking to be slept. Pay me my worth and Kings back.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 1, 2018
Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me. Otherwise I don't give a bollox.
My whiskey is out this year and thats Diddy bread.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 1, 2018
Nurmagomedov tried to parley their Twitter exchanges into an actual fight, telling TMZ that he’d even fight McGregor for free. “I don’t fight for the money, I fight for my legacy,” he said in the interview.
When McGregor was stripped of his lightweight championship belt in April, he kicked the beef into high gear when he caused mayhem at the UFC 223 media day. He and his posse stormed the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, reportedly trying to find Nurmagomedov to retaliate after Nurmagomedov went after McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov days earlier. They didn’t find him in the building, but they were able to catch the buses as they were leaving.
That’s when McGregor decided to throw a hand dolly at the bus, breaking a window and traumatizing the fighters inside.
McGregor’s stunt directly impacted the UFC 223 card, causing three scratched fights: Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis and Ray Borg vs. Brandon Moreno due to injuries from the incident, and Lobov vs. Alex Caceres due to Lobov’s association with the chaos.
It was a mess, but McGregor’s falling out with the UFC didn’t last long. In August, both fighters got their wish when the McGregor-Nurmagomedov lightweight title fight was announced. After that, the trash talk naturally got worse.
Emotions hit their peak at the pre-fight press conference, even though the fighters weren’t even there at the same time. Nurmagomedov started answering questions at 3:00 p.m. as scheduled, but McGregor hadn’t shown up yet. Around 3:15 p.m., Nurmagomedov left, making it clear that he felt disrespected my McGregor’s tardiness.
Once he was there, McGregor didn’t hold back. At one point, he referred to Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, as a “snitch terrorist rat.”
— Mark Suleymanov (@TheMARKOut1) October 4, 2018
Abdelaziz told ESPN fight reporter Ariel Helwani that he didn’t care about McGregor’s comment. But it may have stuck with Nurmagomedov.
McGregor also made it clear that he didn’t care whether he and his Irish fans had affected Nurmagomedov mentally.
“F**k him and his mentality. I don’t give a f**k about him. My heart is black towards this man, towards his team, towards his people,” McGregor said during the conference. “I can truly see the inside of that man’s head and smile. I don’t give a f**k about him or his people. Like I said, there is way deeper s**t than just a fight on Saturday night, so I’m here, I’m going to settle this the noble way myself and then see what happens after that.
I am ruthless here. I am coming to put a hole in this man’s skull, dig my knuckle into his orbital bone, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
After all that and then some (check out the full press conference from the MMAFighting livestream here), Nurmagomedov had apparently had enough of the Irishman’s trash talk.
The fight came and went, with Conor tapping out, but Nurmagomedov kept the feud going after his official victory and after the much-publicized brawl that saw both fighters’ teams get involved. In the post-fight press conference, Nurmagomedov apologized for his actions, but defended his decision to act as he did.
“I don’t understand how people talk about me jumping on the cage? He talk about my religion, he talk about my country, he talk about my father,” Nurmagomedov said. “He broke a bus, he almost killed a couple people.” He added that he wants to change the fight game and make it about respect, not trash talk.
After the dust settled, Abdelaziz also offered his take on the incident via Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
I want to congratulate my brother @khabib_nurmagomedov . The undisputed, undefeated pound for pound king. There were never 2 Kings from the beginning, only one king. This is not the way we want to celebrate such a dominant performance but when you talk about people’s country, family and religion and intentionally try to kill someone like he said and the cornermen running their mouths after, this is the fight game & shit happens. The fans got an amazing fight and a great show. I want apologize to the Nevada athletic commission, the governer of Nevada and I want to thank the Las Vegas police department and security for doing such an unbelievable job. Now everyone understands who’s the amateur here.
And as for McGregor? He already demands a rematch.
Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 7, 2018
We lost the match but won the battle.
The war goes on. pic.twitter.com/CRtPaGfOnn
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 8, 2018