In his first comments since a post-fight brawl in the UFC 229 main event, Conor McGregor congratulated Khabib Nurmagomedov and suggested a rematch in the future.
"Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch," McGregor tweeted early Sunday.
Nurmagomedov scored the biggest victory of his career in what many considered the biggest fight in the history of mixed martial arts on Saturday night. But he immediately ruined his own crowning achievement by causing a near-riot at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas after the bout.
Nurmagomedov (27-0), the UFC lightweight champion from the Russian republic of Dagestan, defeated the sport's biggest star, McGregor (21-4), with a rear-naked choke at 3:03 of the fourth round.
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But immediately after the fight, Nurmagomedov, who has ties to Russian oligarchs and Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, jumped out of the cage and attacked one of McGregor's teammates, Dillon Danis. In the ensuing scramble, a cornerman of Nurmagomedov clobbered an unsuspecting McGregor with a punch.
Three members of Nurmagomedov's team were arrested, according to UFC president Dana White, though White said later Saturday night that those three were released when McGregor declined to press charges.
"Khabib diving over [the cage] was ridiculous," White told ESPN. "You know, you just won a great fight, you fought brilliantly, you're about to get the belt on and people are going to respect the fact that you fought well and you won the fight. And instead, you dive over the cage and start this huge melee with Conor's corner."
Security eventually got a lid on things, and White refused to present the champion with his belt after matters had settled down.
"I actually didn't allow to get the belt put on because I knew what was going to happen when we did it was, people were going to throw whatever they had into the Octagon, so let's just get him out of here," White said. .".. Sure enough, as soon as they started going through the tunnel, exactly what I knew was gonna happen. I was like, 'We'll be lucky enough just to get him out of here without the belt.'"
Nurmagomedov held a brief press conference and apologized to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the city of Las Vegas for his actions.
"I know this is not my best side. I'm human being," said Nurmagomedov, who then began a rant that laid out what he felt were several instances of McGregor wronging him. The list included McGregor's attack at UFC 223's media day in April, which led to the Irish star accepting a plea deal to avoid jail time.
At the time of his interview, White noted that the Nevada State Athletic Commission was still holding Nurmagomedov's purse. McGregor received his share after a review of the tape confirmed there was no need to withhold his earnings.
"We need to see how this plays out," White said, adding that Nurmagomedov could be suspended. "Nobody has ever done that before. Nobody should ever do that. And then the other guys jumping in. The guy (McGregor) just fought four hard rounds. ... It's bad, all bad."
At a later press conference, White said he couldn't say with "100 percent" certainty that UFC wouldn't strip Nurmagomedov of the title, although he said the focus now is on how Nevada authorities respond.
"He doesn't have to worry about me right now, he has to worry about the state of Nevada," White said, although he added that if Nevada regulators hand down a lengthy suspension, then Nurmagomedov likely would be stripped of his title.
McGregor, the former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion, was competing in his first MMA fight in nearly two years. All four of his career defeats have come by way of submission.
White was asked several times about security precautions and said everything that could have been done, was done.
"We did everything to prevent this from happening. Did you see the amount of security and Metro Police out there? And it still happened," he said. "What are you going to do when a guy flies like a monkey over the cage?"
--Field Level Media