Dana White — UFC could strip Khabib Nurmagomedov of title


LAS VEGAS — UFC president Dana White says Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s 155-pound championship could be stripped depending on if he is suspended and for how long after the Russian jumped out of the Octagon and went after Conor McGregor‘s jiu-jitsu coach Saturday night.

Before their UFC 229 fight, McGregor and Nurmagomedov said their feud would continue no matter what happened in the Octagon. No one thought it would continue literally seconds after the fight.

That’s when a brawl inside and outside the Octagon involving both camps forced both fighters and multiple team members to be escorted out of the Octagon by security and police officers.

White said three members of Nurmagomedov’s team involved in the incident were arrested and released late Saturday night. White said McGregor told him that he would not press charges.

White also said the Nevada State Athletic Commission is withholding Nurmagomedov’s check pending an investigation but that McGregor was paid after the commission reviewed tape, interviewed McGregor and concluded there was no reason to withhold his check.

The state commission could also fine and suspend Nurmagomedov, the degree of which could result in his belt being stripped.

The fight ended in the fourth round when Nurmagomedov made McGregor tap to a rear-naked choke. Nurmagomedov, however, wasn’t finished. After McGregor tapped, referee Herb Dean had to restrain Nurmagomedov and push him away from McGregor.

Nurmagomedov then pointed at members of McGregor’s corner, threw his mouthpiece in their direction and started yelling at them. While he was being restrained by security, Nurmagomedov jumped out of the Octagon and went after Dillon Danis, a Bellator welterweight who also is McGregor’s jiu-jitsu coach. Madness ensued with both camps going after each other and having to be restrained by security and police.

During the commotion, two men believed to be a part of Nurmagomedov’s team — one in a black shirt and one in a red shirt — jumped into the Octagon. The man in the black shirt swung at McGregor from the front, while the man in the red shirt punched McGregor in the back of the head twice before security restrained him.

“It’s bad,” White said of the melee. “There’s gonna be an investigation by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and. … there’s gonna be big money fines, and these guys are in big trouble.

“Again, we need to see how this plays out. Nobody has ever done that; nobody should ever do that.”

Nurmagomedov showed up the postfight news conference around midnight in Las Vegas and didn’t take any questions but did make a statement before leaving with his championship.

“First of all, I want to say sorry to the athletic commission, Nevada and sorry to Vegas,” Nurmagomedov said. “This is not my best side. I’m a human being but I don’t understand how people can talk about jumping on the cage when he talks about my religion, he talks about my county, he talks about my father and he comes to Brooklyn and he broke the bus and almost killed a couple of people. What about this? Why are people talking about my jumping over the cage. I don’t understand… You can not talk about religion, you cannot talk about nations, you cannot talk about this stuff. This is for me very important.”

After the chaos had subsided, White said he told Nurmagomedov he wouldn’t put the UFC lightweight championship belt around Nurmagomedov’s waist in the Octagon out of fear that people would throw drinks and other objects at him, potentially hurting other people in the process.

When ring announcer Bruce Buffer announced the result of the main event, neither fighter was in the Octagon because both had already been escorted out.

The rivalry between the McGregor and Nurmagomedov has been brewing for years and boiled over in April when McGregor attacked a bus Nurmagomedov was riding in at Barclays Center before UFC 223.

At Thursday’s news conference, Nurmagomedov and McGregor said they would not shake hands after the fight and that their fight was more than just a battle for the UFC lightweight championship.

“Honestly for me, this is more than defending my title,” Nurmagomedov said then. “For me, it’s more than fight for the title, more than main event. For me, it’s personal. Honestly, for me it’s personal. Of course this is biggest fight in UFC history and we’re going to break record numbers … but for me it’s personal.”

McGregor agreed that the rivalry between the two would extend past Saturday, which was certainly the case in the immediate aftermath.

“There is way deeper s— than just a fight on Saturday night,” McGregor said Thursday. “I’m going to settle this the noble way for myself and then see what happens after that … F— peace. There will never be peace here. I always say you should aim for peace but if you can’t aim for peace, aim between the eyes. I’m gonna to aim right between that man’s eyes and this is never over. Never, ever, ever, over.”

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