“I want to stay humble, but I have to talk because the other guys talk too much, and… I understand the crazy power the UFC PR machine has.” –Khabib Nurmagomedov
It’s not hard to like Khabib Nurmagomedov as an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) choker, but it is difficult to accept his manners and unrestrained tantrums. Even Mike Tyson claimed his own notoriety as a “ring monster” paled in comparison to Nurmagomedov’s display in humiliating Conor McGregor via submission (neck crank) in the fourth round of their fight last weekend at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Perhaps it was pent-up rage following McGregor’s pre-fight misdemeanors and abuses, but the undefeated fighter from the Dagestan area of Russia, who wrestled bears as a child, could not control himself as he leapt from the cage, attacking McGregor’s cornermen, resulting in an ugly melee.
Nurmagomedov may have decisively defeated and exposed the “dimwit” McGregor, along with making a good account of himself as a champion, but fans will remember his not-so-impressive performance and how he destroyed the UFC’s image with cheap stunts and abrasive behavior.
Flashback to August 26, 2017, in the same octagon, there was little sympathy for McGregor when Floyd Mayweather reduced him to a slick-moving punching bag before stopping him with a tenth round technical knockout. It was a mismatch of epic proportion. I had been insisting before the fight, there was no way a UFC bully could roll past a scientific boxer in a match governed by boxing rules and regulations.
We were all taken for a ride with a duel hyped as “The Money Fight” and “The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History.” Fans went gaga over the lopsided rumble.
In losing to Mayweather, McGregor showed some restraint and professionalism before and after the fight, which made many of his fans love and adore him more.
However, back in April, even his Irish countrymen living in the US were embarrassed by his unsportsmanlike behavior when he showed up at the Barclays Center in New York City following the conclusion of UFC 223 media day. McGregor was looking to confront one of that weekend’s main event fighters and threw a steel dolly through the window of a bus carrying that person – Nurmagomedov. At the time, there were also other fighters and UFC staff aboard the bus, some of whom were injured.
This was McGregor’s lowest point and he deserves no sympathy for his destruction by Nurmagomedov.
The genesis of the notorious drama came when Artem Lobov, McGregor’s friend and training partner, spoke to reporters in his native Russia and was critical of Nurmagomedov. “Khabib pulled out six times already,” he said in Russian (as translated by MMAimports.com). “He always pulls out of fights.”
He continued: “If something hurts a little bit, his a** or whatever, he pulls out. He can’t even make weight. He doesn’t give a s*** about his fans. Everyone flew from Russia – getting a visa is a pain and travel expenses – all in order to see him and he doesn’t show up; and it’s not once, not two, three or four times.”
The latest news suggests both McGregor and Nurmagomedov face bans from the UFC.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission is also reportedly preparing to file complaints against the pair. Commission chairman Anthony Marnell and his colleagues have already initiated a full investigation and will be looking at film footage and interviews.
Nurmagomedov issued an apology during his post-fight press conference but scorned McGregor’s behavior in the build-up to the fight./WDJ