UFC President Dana White told TMZ he was “giddy” on Monday morning, which seemed at least a little odd considering the circumstances. Less than 24 hours earlier in Las Vegas, UFC 229 had devolved into fracas when Khabib Nurmagomedov followed his submission win over Conor McGregor by immediately jumping out of the octagon to fight one of the Irishman’s coaches, sparking a melee in the process. But the pay-per-view numbers had started to come in by Monday morning — more than 2 million, less than 3 million, he said, a good number — and that put him in a “much better mood than I was on Saturday,” White said.
White’s relief also may stem from the fact that he probably won’t have to deal with the messy aftermath of the brawl. That will be up to the Nevada Athletic Commission, which has launched an investigation and is withholding Nurmagomedov’s $2 million purse. At some point, White said, the Russian will get his winnings, but probably not all of it. The UFC honcho also speculated that Nurmagomedov will be allowed to keep his lightweight title belt, though he probably is facing a suspension.
“They took his whole purse right now and they’re talking about keeping his purse,” he said in the TMZ interview. “I do not think that that should happen. You should not be able to keep his whole purse. I think they should take a quarter-of-a-million dollars from him. . . . He absolutely keeps his title. And he’s gonna get suspended, so maybe you give him a four- to six-month suspension.”
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the NAC is expected to expedite its investigation and hopes to rule on the matter by the end of November. It also plans on investigating McGregor, who tried to join the fracas but was held back by security personnel, though he did throw a punch. However, the NAC already has released McGregor’s $3 million purse.
White said Saturday’s melee and an April rumpus involving McGregor and Nurmagomedov cannot be compared. If you recall, McGregor attacked a bus containing Nurmagomedov and several other fighters in a backstage area of Barclays Center in Brooklyn a few days before UFC 223. McGregor eventually pleaded no contest to a count of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to community service.
“It’s different circumstances, you guys. It wasn’t at an event,” White said. “This was in the bowels of the Barclays Center, it was a completely different situation. He was dealing with the state of New York and the police. In this thing, [Nurmagomedov] was part of something that was regulated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He was at an event with more people than have ever been at an event for a UFC event in Vegas. There were tons of fans there. It’s a much different situation.”
McGregor does not have a license to fight in the state of New York and probably wouldn’t be granted one if he applied, White said. Nurmagomedov is facing a bigger problem if he were to get suspended, considering Nevada’s status as the fight capital of the world.
“Conor got kicked out of the state of New York. He can’t fight in the state of New York. . . . If Nevada puts a suspension on [Nurmagomedov], everyone will put a suspension on him.”
White shot down any plan to have Nurmagomedov fight internationally if he’s suspended by Nevada.
“We’re not gonna do that,” he said. “We’re not gonna go around the athletic commission in this country to put on a fight. He’ll sit out, take some time off and that’s it.”
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