Khabib Nurmagomedov retained each his unbeaten report (27-0) and light-weight title with a fourth spherical win through submission, however the headlines have been made by the 30-year-old Russian going over the cage and showing to assault somebody within the crowd within the rapid aftermath of his victory.
This was adopted by certainly one of Nurmagomedov’s camp seemingly coming into the octagon and attacking the crushed McGregor contained in the octagon. Fines and suspensions might nicely comply with, and will imply the prospect of Khabib being stripped of the title.
In a way, Saturday’s bout was a case of historical past repeating with the identical metropolis of Las Vegas and venue — the T-Cell Area — enjoying host to the largest identify in UFC in opposition to the light-weight champion Nurmagomedov. However the actuality is that the chaos which ensued after the combat will turn out to be the principle story, somewhat than the Irishman’s comeback to the octagon.
From the get go, each males made clear there was no love misplaced between them, refusing to the touch gloves earlier than the combat.
The rapid stress got here right away from Conor, absolutely conscious that his greatest probability of defeating his superior opponent — within the eyes of the bookmakers not less than — was to dominate early to be able to win the combat through stoppage (McGregor has by no means knocked anybody out within the UFC after the second spherical).
Nurmagomedov alternatively was content material to be affected person, choosing a smothering approach. He landed by far the larger punches within the second spherical, earlier than subjecting the Irishman to his floor and pound.
The Russian additionally had the higher of the third spherical, however by the fourth each fighters have been wanting considerably gassed, earlier than Nurmagomedov’s choke transfer pressured McGregor to faucet out.
As an alternative of the combat ending at that time nevertheless, the crimson mist appeared to descend upon Nurmagomedov, with the Russian setting off a series of occasions which could have wide-ranging ramifications.
On paper, Saturday’s conflict had all of the makings of a basic: divisional supremacy, the evident dangerous blood and differing types made for compelling parts.
The game’s greatest grappler in Nurmagomedov, in opposition to absolutely its most interesting striker in McGregor. Forward of the combat, Nurmagomedov had conquered all earlier than him, racking up a 26-Zero report since coming to UFC in early 2012.
For his half, the Irishman had not fought in a UFC bout for almost two years, since a comparatively routine second-round knockout of Eddie Alvarez in November 2016.
“The Infamous” then suffered the indignity of being stripped of his featherweight and light-weight belts — ending his reign as the one fighter to concurrently maintain two UFC titles — resulting from his resolution to deal with the Mayweather boxing match.
When the pair met up for the weigh-in the day earlier than the combat, McGregor stole the headlines by aiming a kick at his opponent — ensuing of their being restrained by safety guards — whereas the Irishman’s entourage included some showbiz star energy with the sight of the Canadian rapper Drake, draped in an Irish flag. No marvel the UFC’s tagline was “the world is watching.”
Within the rapid construct as much as the combat, maybe to play thoughts video games — although it was blamed on “heavy site visitors” — McGregor confirmed up roughly 25 minutes late to the pre-fight press convention.
However Khabib didn’t get rattled by his opponent’s tardiness; he had already left the stage to begin his weight lower. McGregor had the final phrase, telling reporters, “if you cannot purpose for peace, purpose between the eyes. That is by no means over.”
These phrases might show prophetic, however extra resulting from his opponent’s efficiency and habits than McGregor’s. There was definitely pleasure nevertheless to justify the hype that had seen an estimated report two million pay-per-view purchases in North America alone.
That income will undoubtedly go away the cash males eager for McGregor to return, however his profitable profession earnings make that unsure and he was noncommittal a few future bout forward of the combat.
However even when McGregor doesn’t want UFC, absolutely UFC nonetheless wants him, maybe extra so now than ever.