Khabib Nurmagomedov Could Face Fine and Suspension After Brawl at UFC 229

Khabib Nurmagomedov Could Face Fine and Suspension After Brawl at UFC 229

LAS VEGAS — Khabib Nurmagomedov was the calm, glowering foil to Conor McGregor’s antics for six months, letting the loquacious McGregor built a frenzy of hype around their U.F.C. lightweight title fight.

When Nurmagomedov forced the biggest star in mixed martial arts to tap out Saturday night to end what is likely to end up as the most lucrative show in U.F.C. history, it seemed the perfect response to McGregor’s verbal insults and physical attacks.

But when Nurmagomedov promptly hurdled over the cage fence and fought with McGregor’s taunting cornermen while his own teammates ambushed McGregor, the former champion from Ireland, in the octagon, the Russian champion and his friends might have seriously damaged careers that were just about to take off.

“These guys are in big trouble,” U.F.C. President Dana White said. “It is going to be ugly.”

Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said his organization intended to file a complaint following its investigation into the actions of Nurmagomedov and his team, who set off a post-fight melee at UFC 229 immediately after McGregor submitted to Nurmagomedov’s choke in the fourth round. Nurmagomedov’s $2 million purse has been withheld, and he could face a hefty fine and a lengthy suspension.

White said three members of Nurmagomedov’s team had been detained by police but were released after McGregor refused to press charges. White acknowledged Nurmagomedov’s lightweight title could be stripped if his actions result in a significant suspension.

“There’s going to be fines,” White said. “There’s going to be God knows what. Can these guys get visas to get back in the country? We’ll see how this plays out, but I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and this is the biggest night ever, and I couldn’t be more disappointed.”

McGregor’s $3 million purse was not withheld after commission officials examined video footage and determined his side had done nothing wrong in the melee. While Nurmagomedov brawled with Dillon Danis, one of McGregor’s teammates, outside the cage, a few men from Nurmagomedov’s camp — at least two of whom appeared to be U.F.C. fighters, although the promotion and the commission haven’t formally identified them — climbed into the cage and confronted McGregor, who defended himself while getting punched from behind.

McGregor, who was competing in his first U.F.C. fight in 23 months, offered his first public response to the episode on Twitter early Sunday morning: “Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch.”

By following his masterful victory with a reckless response to McGregor’s lengthy campaign of verbal and physical aggression, Nurmagomedov showcased the best and worst sides of mixed martial arts in a 30-second span. A native of Dagestan who trains in San Jose, Calif., Nurmagomedov also overshadowed his years of steady progress to become one of M.M.A.’s top pound-for-pound fighters.

But Nurmagomedov said he had been brought to a boil by McGregor’s behavior since April, when McGregor attacked a bus carrying Nurmagomedov and several other U.F.C. fighters. McGregor was incensed after Nurmagomedov confronted a member of his team in New York earlier in that week, which ended with Nurmagomedov winning the U.F.C. 155-pound belt.

“I don’t understand how people can talk about I jump on the cage, you know?” Nurmagomedov said after apologizing to the Nevada commission during a brief post-fight statement to reporters.

“What about he talked about my religion, he talk about my country, he talk about my father? He come to Brooklyn and he broke bus. He almost killed a couple of people. What about this?”

Nurmagomedov added: “I don’t understand. I’m respectful. My father teaches me, ‘Hey, you have to be always respectful.’”

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