Conor McGregor is known for being able to back up his brash trash-talking and pre-fight predictions, but “Mystic Mac” ate his words at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
McGregor entered the Octagon to fight current UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Khabib proved to the world that he was the better fighter, but his actions after the contest may have earned him a suspension and will taint his reputation.
Leading up to the fight, Khabib had an undefeated record of 26-0 and was determined to, as he said, “not only smash but change [McGregor’s] face.”
Khabib is a practicing Muslim from Dagestan, Russia, with a sambo and wrestling background. He strongly believes in upholding his honor as a martial artist.
The gate was over $17 million, and the attendance was over 20,000, according to President of the UFC Dana White. The fight was a classic clash between a precision striker with knockout power in McGregor, and an elite grappler with an undefeated record in Khabib.
Neither fighter inflicted significant damage to their opponent on their feet in the first round, but halfway through the round, Khabib started looking for a takedown, and eventually got the Irishman on his back.
The second round was the beginning of McGregor’s demise and was the major turning point in the fight. In the beginning, McGregor miscalculated his distance and had his left hand down. As a result, Khabib landed a flush right hook that dropped McGregor to the canvas. McGregor tried to recover, but Khabib’s relentless pressure and supreme grappling skills dictated the fight from then on.
Mid-fourth round, Khabib looked for an opportunity to close the distance, executed a double leg takedown against the cage and proceeded to rain down another barrage of punches to McGregor’s head and body. Battered and exhausted, McGregor gave up his back to Khabib and was forced to tap due to a neck crank choke.
As exciting as Khabib’s performance was, his actions after the fight were out of control and unnecessary. Once referee Herb Dean stopped the Russian fighter from choking out McGregor, Khabib proceeded to trash-talk McGregor, throw his mouthpiece at McGregor’s coaches and jump out of the cage and into the crowd to fight McGregor’s teammate, Dillon Danis.
At the same time, two men who were thought to be Khabib’s teammates jumped into the Octagon and assaulted McGregor. Within a minute, the madness subsided, and both McGregor and Khabib were rushed out of the arena without any hands being raised or belts being handed out.
“Being in there in the middle of this thing when it was going on, I felt that I had to start worrying about the fans and people that are inside the arena,” Dana White said in the post-fight press conference. “I felt that if we put the belt on him in the middle of the Octagon, it was gonna rain, and I thought that people would throw whatever they had into the Octagon, and I thought it would be a dangerous situation.”
The Nevada State Athletic Commission is reviewing the situation and holding Khabib’s purse. Although McGregor was attacked, he has refused to press charges, and the men who were arrested for the assault have been released.
Although the fight was entertaining and settled who is lightweight champion, the anarchy that erupted after the fight will hurt mixed martial art’s reputation as a sport and the credibility of the UFC. Professional athletic organizations cannot allow this behavior to occur, and high-level fighters need to keep their emotions in check and act responsibly.
Champions should be the type of people you tell children to look up to and respect. Khabib Nurmagomedov may have put on an extraordinary performance, but his wild behavior after the fight has put a blemish on the sport and might cost him his paycheck and possibly his belt.
As for McGregor, in order for him to cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time, the Dublin fighter should take a few weeks of rest and get right back to work.