It’s safe to say that the UFC match pitting McGregor against Khabib was certainly entertaining. The Irishman tapped out the Khabib in the fourth round after his two-year hiatus from the sport in a decisive one-sided affair, which was in someway revenge from Conors attack on a bus in which Khabib was the reported intended target in April this year. Dana White was the first to speak out on this, saying at the time…
What was said?
“This is the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company, and there is a warrant out for McGregor’s arrest. The police are looking for him right now. His plane cannot take off, he cannot leave the state of New York with this warrant. He’ll be grounded, and I’m assuming eventually if they don’t catch him, he’ll turn himself in. You can imagine he’s going to be sued beyond belief and this was a really bad career move for him.”
Suffice to say Dana did not hold back on his criticism of Conor and rightfully so, for it was a stupid and unnecessary attack and he deservedly was sentenced to five days of community service and to attend anger management classes. However, despite Dana’s outspoken criticism of the incident, many were saying how he was secretly delighted that one of his fighters had mainstream attention off the back of this. McGregor has been a controversial figure in the sport for the past few years being one of the only UFC competitors to be a household name many thanks to swapping the octagon from something more square in his bout with Floyd Mayweather last year.
The rivalry between Khabib and McGregor has also been ongoing for months and has been incredibly personal with Khabib’ family and religion being particular targets for the taunts. In a way, it has felt slightly like an old-fashioned WWE feud, both competitors fighting for more than the title. In fact whilst the fighting was ongoing, I was half expecting for Stone Cold to come out to hit both men with a stunner.
Moments like these can only help the UFC brand. UFC is a brutal sport, so garnering attention from the media from events like these can only attract the attention of those who are interested in more violent endeavours, and more fans, of course, means more money. This brings us on to the altercation which happened at UFC 229 last Saturday. After the Russians victory, he jumped out of the octagon and attacked one of McGregor’s sparring partners, and members of Nurmagomedov’s entourage attacked McGregor inside the octagon. Similar to April’s bus attack, White was quick to slam the competitor.
”Khabib had the opportunity to walk out of that place a champion. He would have looked like a stud, instead of flying over the cage and doing the things that he did. It should have been a very different night for him. There’s going to be fines. There’s going to be God knows what. Can these guys get visas to get back in the country? We’ll see how this plays out, but I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and this is the biggest night ever, and I couldn’t be more disappointed.”
After the event, many were speculating what the punishment for Khabib would be after McGregor refused to press charges against those who attacked him. Nurmagomedov’s $2 million purse was withheld, and speculation is he could face a hefty fine along with a lengthy suspension. His lightweight title could also be stripped if his actions result in a significant suspension. However, Dana has since come out to say that no matter what happens, the Russian will keep his world lightweight title even if he is banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) pending investigation. Dana has also said he expects the ban to be 4-6 months in length.
It’s been a week since the events, and yet Dana has seemingly changed his tune entirely. There’s also the argument that if Dana was unhappy with the events that were transpiring Saturday night, then why were the cameras continuing to film if this isn’t what the intention was? Even if it wasn’t the intention, White has hardly thrown the book at Khabib and let the police deal with McGregor in the April bus attack. He, of course, needs to come out with these statements in order to not seem like he is encouraging the controversy, but events like these definitely raise the profile of his sport which can only result in more money.