The aftermath of UFC 229 was ugly. Khabib Nurmagomedov took his own moment away by jumping over the cage and going after Dillon Danis. Regardless of the fact that Nurmagomedov made Conor McGregor tap in the fourth round to retain the UFC lightweight title, no one won. Everybody lost.
Nurmagomedov, McGregor, their coaches and teammates, UFC president Dana White and the UFC brass; they are all losers from this. However, the aftermath of UFC 229 should teach McGregor a lesson. Whether he learned his lesson is another thing. But he was on the receiving end of something he has done plenty of times to others.
Let me give you a history lesson.
McGregor has sparred verbally with Chad Mendes, Ricardo Limas, Donald Cerrone, Jeremy Stephens, Jose Aldo, Rafael dos Anjos and Floyd Mayweather. But he’s crossed the line against some other fighters.
Leading up to his first fight against Nate Diaz, McGregor put a hand on Diaz in the staredown after the UFC 196 pre-fight press conference.
When Nurmagomedov and McGregor faced off at the UFC 229 ceremonial weigh-ins, White can be heard saying “don’t touch” three times. But McGregor crossed that line again.
Prior to the rematch against Diaz at UFC 202, McGregor and Diaz and their teammates were involved in a fight where water bottles were thrown. This led to a hefty punishment for both sides, including McGregor after the Nevada State Athletic Commission docked him for 50 hours of community service and fined him $75,000. The punishment was later reduced to 25 hours and a $25,000 fine. This took place at the UFC 202 pre-fight press conference.
In the UFC 205 pre-fight press conference, then-lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez grabbed his chair and tossed it behind McGregor. McGregor picked up the chair, put it above his head, and was a split-second away from throwing it at Alvarez as White was trying hard to prevent it from happening.
After his friend and teammate, Charlie Ward, picked up a win at Bellator 187, McGregor jumped the cage to celebrate with his teammate and pushed referee Marc Goddard into a fighter recovering from a TKO, all because McGregor was told he could not be in the cage.
During the week of UFC 223 in Brooklyn, McGregor was upset about a minor verbal occurrence between his teammate, Artem Lobov, and Nurmagomedov at a hotel. Because of that, McGregor and his friends loaded a private jet from Ireland to Brooklyn in attempt to attack Nurmagomedov, leading to the infamous bus attack.
McGregor held nothing back during the UFC 229 press conference last month, taking personal shots at Nurmagomedov. White called the press conference the “darkest” he has been a part of because of the personal attacks, involving family, country and religion.
With all of these actions, McGregor fans still cheer and support him while trying to defend his actions. But when Nurmagomedov flipped the script after UFC 229, McGregor fans became critical of Nurmagomedov’s actions.
After all of the bullying McGregor created leading up to his fights, he and his friends found themselves on the other side Saturday night after McGregor lost. McGregor has no one to blame but himself.
Many MMA fighters have trash talked with their opponents. But McGregor has taken it too far. McGregor always has the intent of getting under his upcoming opponents’ skin by personally attack them during press conferences.
With Nurmagomedov, McGregor made things personal. Nurmagomedov kept talking to McGregor right after he submitted him as referee Herb Dean had to push Nurmagomedov away. He then threw his mouthpiece at McGregor’s corner before jumping over the cage and igniting a massive brawl.
I want to make it clear that what Nurmagomedov was wrong and he could face serious consequences for it. But any person in Nurmagomedov’s shoes would have been upset if their family, country and religion were brought up and attacked in attempt to create hype to sell a fight.
Nurmagomedov blew up and did something completely uncharacteristic of him. He did it because of the comments he’s heard from McGregor. Add in the fact that McGregor’s corner, specifically Danis, shouted something at Nurmagomedov. We don’t know exactly what he said that caused Nurmagomedov to jump.
Again, what Nurmagomedov did was immature and illegal. He deserves a lot of criticism. But let’s not act like McGregor’s hands are completely clean right now or before all of this. As listed above, McGregor has said and done plenty of things in which he has faced little to no punishment for. Had any other UFC fighter done one or two of those things, White and the UFC would come down with a big penalty.
Yes, Nurmagomedov and his team attacked McGregor and his team. That individual incident is worse than McGregor’s because McGregor and his team didn’t put their hands on anyone from the bus attack. But McGregor is always doing something that puts the UFC in the national spotlight in a negative manner. The two biggest stories of 2018 for the UFC, both giving the sport a bad name, involve McGregor.
White and the UFC requested extra security on stage when McGregor had staredowns against Diaz in the rematch and against Nurmagomedov this past Friday. Why doesn’t the UFC need this for other fighters?
The truth is, McGregor owns a lot of responsibility for happened after his loss at UFC 229. By making things personal with Nurmagomedov, Nurmagomedov and his team struck back harder.
Everyone lost this silly war between Team Khabib and Team McGregor. But perhaps this may teach McGregor that he needs to tone it down in his press conferences. It’s a long shot, but he has to learn at some point that what he is doing is unhealthy for the sport, and even for him. Let’s face it, if a fighter does 100 percent of the trash talking and personal attacks and loses, he looks foolish.
Mixed martial arts is a wonderful sport that includes trash talking and mean comments. But McGregor’s involvement has taken that to a troubling level. White must step in and let McGregor know there is a line. If McGregor can behave like a grown man and not attack people personally, then these brawls won’t ever happen again when McGregor is around.
But that is unlikely. Pre-fight fireworks at press conferences is how McGregor got to this point.
Even so, McGregor now knows how it feels to be on the other side. He’s done more than enough. Now, enough is enough. Do your pressers, fight and be professional at the fight regardless of the outcome.