Khabib Nurmagomedov claims he was trying to bring respect back to the sport of MMA when he jumped into the crowd at UFC 229, initiating a brawl with members of opponent Conor McGregor’s team.
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov finally found his belt. And while UFC President Dana White didn’t rule out stripping the 155lb champion after his actions at UFC 229, it looks like ‘The Eagle’ will keep it for now. Khabib turned up, belt in hand, at the post fight press conference following Saturday’s event in Las Vegas, just minutes after White had left the stage. There, White had said stripping the champ was possible, though the promotion will wait to see what sort of suspension is handed down by the NSAC.
As for Khabib, the champion did not stay long. Nor was he seemingly happy about his portrayal immediately after he sparked a brawl in the stands and in the cage.
“First of all, I want to say sorry to athletic commission, Nevada, sorry to Vegas,” Nurmagomedov said. “I know this is not my best side. This is not my best side. I’m a human being.” Having apologized, however, Khabib professed confusion about why people were denouncing his actions. After submitting Conor McGregor, he scaled the fence and charged towards McGregor’s teammate and training partner Dillon Danis. The two appeared to brawl, before Danis was led out of the building. At one point, it appeared another of Nurmagomedov’s team had also attacked Danis. He was reportedly one of three Nurmagomedov associates arrested and released.
“I don’t understand how people can talk about ‘I jump on the cage,'” Khabib complained in Las Vegas late Saturday. “What about, he talk about about my religion, he talk about my country, he talk about my father? He come to Brooklyn and he broke bus, he almost killed couple people. What about this? What about this sh*t?” Of course, Nurmagomedov is referring to McGregor attacking a bus at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY in April ahead of UFC 223. The attack on the bus, which housed Nurmagomedov, his manager Ali Abdelaziz, and others, was in retaliation for Nurmagomedov and his entourage accosting McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobob at a hotel earler that week.
McGregor, of course, was charged for his actions, later taking a plea deal. This appeared lost on the current UFC lightweight champion on Saturday, who bemoaned “why people talk about ‘I jump over the cage?’ Why people still talk about this? I no understand.”
In an effort to change focus, Nurmagomedov insisted that his father, friends, and teammates know him (better than, presumably, those currently judging him). It was, in fact, teammates Daniel Cormier and Luke Rockhold who UFC President Dana White credited with helping calm the Dagestani fighter down. So he may be right on that front. Nurmagomedov then turned his attention on his opponent. “I told you guys, not only him, but his whole gym, they tap machines,” he said.
Not that it really matters. It may be a long time before Nurmagomedov fights again, depending on how the Nevada State Athletic Commission handles things. The powder keg Khabib Nurmagomedov set off at UFC 229 wasn’t entirely of his own making, but he lit the match in the end. In was a despicable act that tarnished a great win, and a great night of fights.
Trying his best to offer an explanation, Nurmagomedov insisted his actions were about respect. “Media little bit changed MMA. This is respect sport,” he pitched. “This is not trash talking sport. This is respect sport. Like I told you guys before, I wanna to change this game. I don’t want people talk sh*t about opponents, talk sh*t about his father, like religion. You cannot talk about religion, you cannot talk about nation, guys you cannot talk about this stuff. This is, for me, it’s very important.”
However, it appears the champion wasn’t even buying his own excuse. “I know my father gonna smash me when I go home,” he admitted.
“Nevada, sorry. Vegas, sorry,” added Nurmagomedov, before letting slip that Russian President Putin had called him to congratulate him on the win. The Dagestani then walked out on the press conference, refusing to answer any questions.