In a wild night at T-Mobile Arena in downtown Las Vegas, Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov defeated Conor McGregor via TKO to retain his UFC Lightwight Belt. He moves on to 27-0, while McGregor (21-4) endured his 4th professional loss and 2nd in his past 4 fights. This was McGregor’s first fight in the Octagon since 2016, excluding his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather last year. He lost his lightweight championship belt in April due to inactivity.
The fight itself lived up to expectations. Within minutes of the first bell Khabib had McGregor on his back, utilizing his superb wrestling technique. While Nurmagomedov laid on top of the Irishman and crossed his feet, he did little to tire him out and ultimately won the first round based off of control. After the end of the 1st, Conor’s corner instructed him to let Khabib come to him and to rely on his reach and boxing ability.
But Khabib changed his approach in round 2- he went toe-to-toe boxing with McGregor and landed a crucial right cross, pushing McGregor to the floor. He then wrestled him down once again and this time moved to a more offensive gameplan. Khabib unloaded with punch after punch on McGregor as he pushed him into the wall. With about 90 seconds to go in round 2 it looked like the match could have been stopped, and McGregor appeared to have a slight cut over his eye. The only hope for McGregor would be Khabib’s energy levels, as Conor largely blocked or avoided most of Khabib’s haymakers in the closing minutes. After 2 most judges likely had at 20-17 (or 18) in favor of Khabib.
Round 3 was McGregor’s best round- he utilized a veteran strategy of breaking Khabib’s hands apart to avoid takedowns, and he boxed with Khabib for a solid 2 minute stretch. Nurmagomedov looked fatigued and was adamantly disappointed in McGregor’s technique. That sparked Khabib’s furious attack at the start of round 4, where he tackled McGregor early and went for a chokehold that ultimately ended the fight about halfway through round 4.
The story should have stopped there, but this UFC tale was just beginning as a WWE-esque melee ensued.
Immediately after the fight, Khabib appeared to be frustrated that he couldn’t continue to fight. He said something to McGregor as he recovered from the chokehold, and then appeared to throw his mouthguard in the direction of McGregor’s VIP seating area. After jawing with the section, again just 30 seconds after winning the fight, Khabib jumped over the Octagon and appeared to swing at Conor’s jiu-jitsu coach Dillon Danis. Meanwhile, several members of Khabib’s camp jumped into the Octagon and took shots at McGregor.
As security flooded the arena McGregor was ushered away to cheers. Khabib pleaded with Dana White to put his belt on, but White refused claiming that people would throw (expletive) into the Octagon. Bruce Buffer ultimately made the official winner announcement without either fighter standing in the Octagon. Both fighters noted earlier in the week that there would not be a post-fight handshake, as things had gotten too personal throughout the week. It is still unclear whether a rematch is on the table.
Conor McGregor has been given his purse check for the fight. After reviewing video tape, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has determined that there was not any wrongdoing on his camp’s side. Nurmagomedov’s check has not been issued.
Three members of Khabib’s team have been arrested and taken to jail in Las Vegas. Two men, one in a black shirt and another in a red shirt, appeared to swing at McGregor after jumping into the Octagon after the fight. No further information was given at the time.
Nurmagomedov did not take any questions from the media. He apologized to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and Las Vegas, but questioned the media for not discussing McGregor’s disparaging comments regarding, among other things, “religion, home nation (Russia), my father, and how he attacked my bus.” Dana White spoke minutes earlier and called the fight the craziest moment of his UFC career. He added that he is unclear if suspensions and Visa issues will come in to play, and did not want to discuss if a rematch was on the table.
Updates will continue on TWN’s social media accounts, including post game press conferences from fighters. Check out this week’s Wrightway Podcast on BTR & Soundcoud LIVE Monday Night at 9:30pm.