Khabib Nurmagomedov wasn’t banned from fighting in Las Vegas for his part in the UFC 229 post-headliner melee. At least he wasn’t banned permanently. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be back.
Overall, the situation could be viewed as unfortunate, to say the least. Nurmagomedov is a big draw, and he put on a stunning performance against UFC top draw Conor McGregor at their infamous lightweight title showdown.
Nurmagomedov outclassed his foe, winning the first two rounds and arguably the third before forcing the tap in the fourth. Then the tension from months of mind games and trash talk finally boiled over. Nurmagomedov, who had been attacked physically, verbally, and emotionally leading up to the fight finally lashed out.
He jumped the cage and attacked McGregor’s cornermen, igniting a multi-man melee that saw various individuals handed sanctions. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) handed out multiple sanctions, including one to Nurmagomedov who opted to simply pay a settlement to excuse himself from the proceedings.
His social media post about it simply read: “Wake me up, when it’s all over,” alongside a picture of the champion sleeping. Nurmagomedov was handed a $500,000 fine and a nine-month suspension. That suspension will be applied retroactively to the date of the incident, and could even be reduced to six months should Nurmagomedov agree to participate in an NSAC-approved public service announcement against bullying.
But it seems the champion isn’t interested in the deal, and may not be interested in fighting in Nevada again at all. His manager recently took to social media and reported the champ was done with Nevada, and would target New York for his comeback fight.
Nurmagomedov probably isn’t pleased his fine was 10 times that of McGregor’s – especially when McGregor got a slap on the wrist for his infamous bus attack months before their fight. He probably isn’t happy about having to do an anti-bullying campaign when some would argue he was the victim of bullying regarding his family, country, and religion.
But the biggest issue for Nurmagomedov was the year-long suspension his teammates received for their involvement in the brawl. McGregor seemed to throw the first punch at Nurmagomedov’s brother, which caused two men from the team to end up getting involved. Their year-long suspensions are a bit of a bigger deal, as they don’t get the kind of opportunities and money Nurmagomedov gets.
When the issue first happened, the champ was even threatening to walk away from the UFC in general if his friends were banned for life. And while they are only being given a year, it still seems too much. Nurmagomedov is a noted fan of the Madison Square Garden arena, and has a lot of fans in the New York area.
Losing such a big draw would be tough for Vegas, but the commission handed down their harsh ruling to set an example for other fighters. Will they stick with it? Will they cave? Will the champion ever return?