Moments after his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov on Saturday night, Conor McGregor was ready to put his lightweight title defeat behind him and eager for a rematch. Nurmagomedov, in a message sent Monday, seems less certain about stepping into the octagon with him again.
UFC officials and the Nevada Athletic Commission will have something to say about that in the aftermath of a wild, post-fight brawl that left UFC President Dana White “disgusted and sick.” It left McGregor tweeting, "“Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch.”
Nurmagomedov delivered a message to McGregor on Instagram about that, saying that the Irishman is “just now slowing down” and apologizing, as he did Saturday night, for the T-Mobile Arena melee.
“Brothers, you’re just now slowing down, for now I’m uncomfortable for you,” Nurmagomedov wrote, apparently referring to McGregor. (The Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan provided translation and points out that, in Russian, a plural reference can refer to one person.)
“I told you, October 6. I told everyone, or did you really want me to get beat there?”
McGregor was on social media Monday, too, and said, “we lost the match but won the battle. The war goes on.”
Nurmagomedov apologized for the brawl that erupted after McGregor tapped out in a fourth-round chokehold. That sent the arena into chaos, when three members of Nurmagomedov’s entourage climbed into the octagon and attacked McGregor. The three were arrested, but later released after McGregor declined to press charges.
It was part of an ugly lead-up to the fight, which marked McGregor’s return to UFC after a lengthy absence during which he fought and lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and was involved in an incident with Nurmagomedov’s entourage last spring. McGregor attacked a bus carrying the group and others in Brooklyn in April, shortly after Nurmagomedov had confronted McGregor’s teammate and friend Artem Lobov at the hotel housing the fighters for UFC 223. McGregor pleaded guilty to a single charge of disorderly conduct and has no criminal record over the incident. Still, the bad blood between the two — whether genuine or amped up for publicity purposes — lingered into the news conferences leading up to UFC 229.
"He talk about my religion. He talk about my country. He talk about my father,” Nurmagomedov said of McGregor on Saturday night, adding, “This is a respect sport, this is not a trash-talking sport. … You cannot talk about religion, you cannot talk about a nation, you cannot talk about this stuff. For me, this is very important.”
Nurmagomedov admitted “I know this is not my best side” Saturday night and expressed his apologies again Monday, thanking his fans.
"I’m apologizing in front of everyone who I upset in our shared fight. For my fans, you are just cosmos [out of this world?] Thank you for your incredible support, I love you.”
In a later post, Nurmagomedov joked, “Maybe I need new haters, for old ones started to like me” and followed that with a series of parentheses, the Russian way of typing smiley faces.
Nurmagomedov’s manager said the champion will meet with the Nevada commission and will point out everything that led up to the brawl in his defense, including that his group claims were angry words from Dillon Danis, McGregor’s training partner.
“Khabib should not have jumped the fence, for his own safety and protection, but everybody forgets Conor tried to kill 20 people on the bus [in Brooklyn],” Nurmadomedov manager Ali Abdelaziz told the Los Angeles Times. “Conor [later] talked about Khabib’s father. He talked about his [Islamic] religion. He talked about people being terrorists. … When you talk about countries, about people being dogs, and then after, you have your corner talking [stuff] cageside to Khabib.
“You can’t bite a dog, and not expect to get bitten. You can’t play by fire and not expect to get burned. This Conor McGregor is not a good guy. He’s a horrible human being.”
The commission under executive director Bob Bennett, a former FBI agent and boxing judge, is investigating the incident, which occurred with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval in attendance. Nurmagomedov could be suspended, which would force UFC to strip him of his belt or schedule an interim title fight. Abdelaziz pointed out to the Times’s Lance Pugmire that UFC was only too happy to use the fighters' history, including footage of the bus attack, in “Bad Blood” promotional material. It worked because the fight drew an announced crowd of 20,034 and a live gate of $17.2 million from ticket sales (per the Las Vegas Review Journal) and could set a UFC record for pay-per-view buys.
White brought up the possibility that the Nevada agency could essentially fine Nurmagomedov $2 million for his role in sparking the melee. “They took his whole purse right now, and they’re talking about keeping his purse,” he told TMZ Sports on Monday. “You should not be able to keep his whole purse.”
White added that he thought the commission should “take a quarter of a million dollars” from the Russian champion, and that a “four- to six-month suspension” was likely. He asserted that, if Nevada slapped a ban on Nurmagomedov and other state agencies followed suit, the UFC would not “go around” the problem by having the lightweight fight overseas.
“Let’s be real, man,” Abdelaziz said. “The UFC promoted this fight with the videos. They didn’t promote this as going to a golf tournament.”
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