White, Khabib Address UFC 229 Brawl
UFC President Dana White was looking at UFC 229 as one of the biggest highlights of his professional career. He’ll look at it as such still, but not in the way he wished.
Addressing the media at the UFC 229 post-fight press conference, the UFC head looked fatigued and disheveled, adding that he couldn’t care about pay-per-view numbers.
“I’ve been working hard for 18 years to build this sport,” White said. “I can promise [those who are watching or covering UFC for the first time] this isn’t what an MMA event is like. When you have such an amazing event you’ve worked to build…I said, ‘this is too crazy.'”
The biggest night ever…and I couldn’t be more disappointed.
White went on to describe the situation to his knowledge in detail, stating that after Nurmagomedov said something to McGregor following the submission in their fight, one of McGregor’s coaches began yelling at Khabib. The UFC champion then jumped over the cage and went after the corner, while a couple of his men attacked a recovering McGregor inside the Octagon.
According to White, an investigation by the Nevada State Athletic Commission is underway. Three people, assumed to be associated with Khabib, were arrested but released as soon as McGregor opted to not press charges. The commission is withholding Khabib’s purse. McGregor’s purse was originally withheld, but granted following an interview.
White adds that if any of the three arrested were signed with the UFC, their contracts will be immediately terminated.
According to White, security had been beefed up for the event and several meetings were held throughout the night.
“I was at Tyson-Holyfield and that was crazy. When it started, I had visions of that,” White said. “Props to security for containing it.
I was like, ‘No way…this is not happening, man…’ For the show to end this way…I don’t know if it hurts us at all, some people love that s***, but for me it’s a bad night.
We went above and beyond anything we’ve ever done to prevent this. And it still happened. What’re you going to do when a guy flies like a monkey over the cage?…Once it starts, it’s hard to stop.
Nurmagomedov reportedly took offense to some things McGregor said about matters such as his father, religion and country. To White, it’s one thing if McGregor said this to a fan, but a different thing to another fighter in the spirit of competition.
“This is the fight business. It’s sports. It’s part of the game. That won’t change,” White said. “We’ve had situations where fighters say stuff to the fans, that’s a whole other ballgame. Fighters? That’s competition, always going to happen.”
White adds he will wait to see what the Nevada State Athletic Commission does with Khabib before deciding on any further sanctions. He fears it may not go well for Khabib considering, according to White, the governor of Nevada was in the building and ran out following the brawl’s start.
“[Khabib] had the opportunity to walk out of that place a champion and look like a stud. Should’ve been a different night for him, too,” White said.
I should feel better than I do. We should all be celebrating. When you put on the right event, with the right guys, with the right time…it sucks to end it like this.
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov took to the presser stage after White, apologizing for his actions, but saying McGregor brought what happened on himself.
“I don’t understand how people can talk about how I jump over the cage, what about all that Conor talked about? What about [the bus incident]?” Nurmagomedov asked. “This is respect sport. You cannot talk about religion, nation…you cannot talk about this stuff. For me this is very important.”
Khabib added that Vladimir Putin called him to congratulate him and offered apologizes once more before a quick departure without answering media questions.
Khabib Nurmagomedov addressed the media and apologized to the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the altercation after he defeated Conor McGregor. pic.twitter.com/VyRtCt8YmQ
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 7, 2018