Khabib Nurmagomedov has had enough with Las Vegas and has no intention of returning there ever. At least not to fight in the octagon. His previous Vegas trip was a bittersweet experience for the Dagestani fighter.
The sweet part of it happened in the ring, where he defeated his arch-rival Conor McGregor; the bitter part came afterward, when “The Eagle” took part in a big brawl in the stands. The consequences of the incident are the reason why Khabib now has a beef with the UFC. And the same is the reason why he decided to say farewell to Las Vegas for good.
The Post-Match Brawl
The fight that Dana White called “the biggest in UFC history” was the main event of UFC 229 which took place in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in October 2018. After four rounds, at three minutes and three seconds of the match, Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor with a neck crank.
Moments after winning the fight, Nurmagomedov jumped over the fence and into the crowd, starting a massive brawl in the stands. As the footage shows, Nurmagomedov went after Dillon Danis from the McGregor team. This sparked a reaction from Conor McGregor who punched Khabib’s cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov while trying to exit the octagon. Abubakar and two of Khabib’s cornermen retaliated straight away.
It’s still not completely clear what the reason was that made Nurmagomedov go berserk. However, it seems that what he said in the post-fight interview was not entirely true. In his initial explanation of the events that happened after the match, he claimed that the members of McGregor’s team were insulting his nation and religion.
Investigative journalist Mike Russell debunked the claims of bigotry being what sparked the brawl. According to the evidence he collected, the main culprit for the fight is Rizvan Magomedov, the president of Dominance MMA Russia. It appears that he started taunting Dillon Danis once Khabib did a neck crank on McGregor. Danis’ reaction was to push him away, which made Nurmagomedov go crazy.
Considering that Nurmagomedov was a good few yards away from the incident, it doesn’t seem plausible that he would’ve been able to hear what the two were saying. Therefore, the accusations of racism and bigotry just don’t seem true. And that’s exactly what both the UFC and the NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) concluded after investigating the incident.
Consequences of the Incident
Khabib Nurmagomedov was supposed to receive two million dollars for taking part in the UFC 229. However, due to the post-fight incident, the Nevada State Athletic Commission decided to freeze half of the amount until the investigation was over. The attorney general was pushing in favor of seizing all the purse money, as well as banning the fighter for life.
However, the commission concluded that the right punishment for the post-fight misbehavior was a nine-month suspension and a monetary fine. The commission ordered Nurmagomedov to pay a quarter of his purse, which accounts to $500,000. In comparison, his rival McGregor got suspended for six months and was ordered to pay a fine that’s ten times smaller than the one Nurmagomedov got.
The decision of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to fine Nurmagomedov more severely than his nemesis has made the Dagestani fighter angry and disappointed. He reacted to the decision on Instagram, saying that he would make McGregor pay for everything. Nurmagomedov did curb his anger eventually and, according to his father, has forgiven Conor for all he’s done.
However, it appears that Khabib still hasn’t forgiven the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Although he does insist his decision has nothing to do with money, he did mention the fact that he was fined 10 times as much as McGregor.
“It is not about money. It is about how the whole process is going. I don’t want to fight in Vegas.”
Khabib’s Previous Vegas Bouts
The UFC 229 wasn’t the first time Nurmagomedov fought in front of the Las Vegas crowd. He did it on three other occasions in the past.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Gleison Tibau @ UFC 148 in 2012
The fight he won by unanimous decision was Khabib’s first fight in Las Vegas and the second time he’s fought on the US ground. His first fight in the United States happened in Nashville, Tennessee less than six months earlier. Before going to America, Nurmagomedov fought only in Russia and Ukraine.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Abel Trujillo @ UFC 160 in 2013
The win over Abel Trujillo was his 20th victory in the UFC. And same as the previous Las Vegas fight, Khabib won this one on points as well. After full three rounds, Khabib was crowned the winner by unanimous decision.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Edson Barboza @ UFC 219 in 2017
The clash between Nurmagomedov and Barboza was the Performance of the Night at the UFC 219. After five minutes in the octagon, Khabib was declared the winner of the fight by another unanimous decision.
What the Future Holds?
Nurmagomedov’s fighting ban is ending on 6 July 2019, after which he’ll be yet again eligible to compete in the UFC. He’s still the UFC Lightweight Champion but that title is challenged by the interim champ Dustin Poirier. Their fight is going to be a part of the UFC 242, which is scheduled for September 7 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Poirier, who won the interim UFC Lightweight Championship on April 13, 2019, by beating Max Holloway on points, is currently the number 8 in official pound-for-pound rankings of the UFC, five places behind Nurmagomedov.
The odds on this fight are already out and Khabib is the favorite to win it. You can see it for yourself by heading to OffshoreSportsbooks.com and checking out the books that offer MMA betting. Most of those sportsbooks are giving the odds of -475 for Khabib to retain his title. That’s not surprising given the fact that Nurmagomedov is an undefeated lightweight champ with the record of 27:0 since the beginning of his professional career more than a decade ago.