The Friday Five: October 12th 2018

1. Conor & Khabib Temporarily Suspended, NSAC Hearing Oct. 24

Credit: Twitter/@MMAFighting

Per Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Bob Bennett, Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov will temporarily be suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Monday ahead of an Oct. 24 hearing.

As first reported by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the NSAC will decide at the hearing whether or not to suspended Nurmagomedov and McGregor indefinitely following the brawl that erupted in the immediate aftermath of their UFC 229 fight.

Following the fight, which Nurmagomedov won by submission, the Dagestani UFC lightweight champion jumped over the Octagon to attack members of McGregor’s corner. McGregor, meanwhile, climbed up on the cage to attack members of Nurmagomedov’s team who came at him, and McGregor was sucker punched in the Octagon by who is assumed to be a member of Nurmagomedov’s team.

Nurmagomedov is expected to receive sanctions for starting the brawl, while McGregor is likely to be punished for jumping on and scaling the cage. Nurmagomedov’s UFC 229 purse is still being withheld, and Bennett gave no comment as to why.

2. Estimated 2.4 Million Buys For UFC 229 Would Set Record

Early numbers show UFC 229 will now hold the record for the most-bought MMA pay-per-view event in history by a large margin.

Per a report from Dave Meltzer, UFC 229 — which featured the long-awaited showdown between rivals Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov — is projected to have an estimated 2.4 million pay-per-view buys. This would smash the record of 1.5 million buys held by UFC 202, which featured Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz’s second encounter.

This amount would make UFC President Dana White’s prediction of UFC 229 passing the two-million buy mark true, though it would also come up short of White’s previously mentioned three-million buys. Yet, since pay-per-numbers are only released for North America, it makes it hard to tell where UFC 229 compares to other pay-per-views that broke the two-million buys mark.

McGregor now is a headliner for the three biggest UFC events in history — as the third-most bought UFC event was UFC 196, which featured his first fight with Diaz. The most-bought event that didn’t feature McGregor is UFC 100 back in July 2009, which saw a Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir heavyweight title unification bout in the main event.

The official figures will not be released by the UFC for months.

McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov was heavily promoted by White and other sources as the biggest fight in MMA history. The promotion also featured highlighting of McGregor’s UFC 223 bus attack from April, which may have played a role in the post-fight brawl that occurred.

It also may indicate — to the chagrin of some — a rematch could draw even more.

It’s worth noting that about 20 percent of the pay-per-view’s purchases came online — an unprecedented mark, as even two years ago online buys for UFC events were a maximum five percent.

For comparison’s sake, last month’s UFC 228 — highlighted by Tyron Woodley vs. Darren Till — only saw about 130,000 buys. This would indicate the few biggest names and fights in MMA have drawing power unlike ever before, but audiences still pic and choose.

3. Khabib Threatens to Quit if Teammate Gets Released

Credit: Twitter Moments

The aftermath of the UFC 229 brawl continues to roll out, as Khabib Nurmagomedov has come out to blast the UFC for punishing his “brothers.”

On Thursday, the UFC lightweight champion would call out the UFC for not taking more action against Conor McGregor for his UFC 223 bus attack, which saw numerous injuries and the card being re-booked around the incident, even though the UFC allowed the legal process to take place and let the courts decide McGregor’s fate.

Nurmagomedov has told the organization to punish him and not his teammates, and if they look to fire fellow UFC fighter Zubaria Tukhugov for his blindside attack on McGregor, they should expect him to walk out from the company with him.

“In any case, punish me,” Nurmagomedov stated on his Instagram in both English and Russian. “If you think that I’ll keep silent then you are mistaken. You canceled Zubaira’s fight and you want to dismiss him just because he hit Conor. But don’t forget that it was Conor who had hit my another Brother FIRST, just check the video.”

“If you decide to fire him, you should know that you’ll lose me too. We never give up on our brothers in Russia and I will go to the end for my Brother. If you still decide to fire him, don’t forget to send me my broken contract, otherwise I’ll break it myself.”

Nurmagomedov would also tell the UFC to keep his $2 million pay for the event, which is being withheld by the Nevada Athletic Commission due to his role in the brawl. “And one more thing, you can keep my money that you are withholding,” claimed the lightweight champion. “You are pretty busy with that, I hope it won’t get stuck in your throat. We have defended our honor and this is the most important thing. We intend to go to the end.”

4. Billy Joe Saunders Vacates WBO Middleweight Title

A week ago Billy Joe Saunders was still stinging from a punishment from the British Boxing Board of Control, and now not only was he fined by the BBoC, he has failed a VADA drug test, which has see him denied a license to fight in the state of Massachusetts, leaving him to vacate his WBO middleweight title.

Saunders would voluntarily vacate the title on Thursday to WBO President Francisco Valcárcel, instead of the governing body stripping him due to testing positive for the banned substance oxilofrine.

Valcárcel would also confirm that Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondonkwa will battle for the now vacant belt, and Saunders may receive a six-month suspension from the WBO for failing the drug test.

The British boxer is not going quietly into the night however, as the boxer is set to sue the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission for denying him a license in an attempt to recoup any lost earnings from the fight on October 20th.

Frank Warren, who promotes Saunders, claims the commission had no basis to deny a license based on the failed test because it was due to Saunders use of a common nasal decongestant spray.

“They referred to a prohibited list which is published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA),” Warren said in a recent interview, “and they applied that to deny him a licence.

“But the test was done by VADA, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. The substance they found in their test is prohibited by them, but under WADA it is allowed out of competition, which is up until the day before the fight.”

The Massachusetts commission didn’t make a distinction in their decision on what could be considered in and out of competition.

“VADA bans everything. They are not recognized in Great Britain, they are not recognized by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and they are not recognized by the British Boxing Board of Control,” Warren said regarding why Saunders was utilizing the nasal spray less than two weeks prior to fight night.

5. Cormier-Lewis Set for UFC 230

Less than 24 hours after it was rumored, Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis have been set to square off at UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden.

The November 3rd event has been in a state of flux the past few weeks, as the main event was rumored to be Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier in a five round fight and possibly for a new 165 pound title, but then would be revealed to be for the vacant women’s flyweight title between Valentina Shevchenko and Sijara Eubanks, which was slammed by many for not being at the level of a Pay-Per-View main event at Madison Square Garden.

Now, it seems neither fight will be on last as Cormier will make the first defense of his UFC heavyweight title, which he won at UFC 224 in July with a first-round knockout of Stipe Miocic.

Lewis is coming off a last second knockout of Alexander Volkov at Saturday’s UFC 229, and is still under a medical suspension from the event, but seems to be clear to fight Cormier in his first title opportunity.

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