McGregor vs Khabib Goes Beyond the Octagon


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UFC CEO Dana White separates Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor during a press conference.

Patrick Ales, Staff Writer

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), under the leadership of CEO Dana White, is slowly becoming one of the most popular sports brands in the world. At the center of this steady rise is quite possibly the biggest attraction in all of the sports, Irishman Conor McGregor. The outspoken fighter is no stranger to the spotlight, as he recently took a two-year break from UFC to fight legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather in one of the most highly publicized bouts of all time. Despite losing the match to Mayweather, McGregor cemented his spot in fighting, across all branches of the sport. The Irishman’s fame is not only due to his affinity for a good press conference- but his in-ring performance is also among the best ever. Being the only UFC fighter to ever hold two championship belts at the same time, McGregor had a target on his back long before his recent skirmish with Khabib Nurmagomedov. A less renowned fighter than his opponent at UFC 229, the Russian-born Nurmagomedov was undefeated going into his title match with McGregor.

The most anticipated fight in UFC history ended in a shocking submission by McGregor to Khabib’s chokehold, extending the Russian’s unbeaten streak and handing him the title. This was largely overshadowed by the events immediately following the fight’s end. As McGregor laid on the floor in defeat, Khabib jumped over the octagon and began to attack the Irishman’s coaching staff and team. Chaos ensued, as McGregor then tried to leave the octagon and was met by members of Khabib’s team, which resulted in another brawl. After the dust settled, UFC CEO Dana White said the events “disgusted” him. Repercussions are sure to follow, but these must be taken into context. McGregor was not shy about his distaste for Nurmagomedov’s religion or ethnicity, going as far as verbally attacking the Russian’s father.

The animosity between the two camps did not stop at verbal abuse, as evidenced by a July assault that shocked the sports world. Artem Lobov, a fellow UFC fighter and longtime best friend of Conor McGregor alleged that Nurmagomedov had slapped him during an altercation at an event. After hearing the news of the incident, McGregor and his entourage took a private jet directly from Dublin to New York to confront Khabib. As the group of Irishmen approached the bus on which their target was seated, everything spiraled out of control. McGregor assaulted several of Nurmagomedov’s staff and sent a trolley hurling through the bus window. The Irishman was later charged for the incident but avoided jail time.

“I think the whole bus incident and subsequent bickering by the two fighters is a stain on the UFC and could stunt their growth as a brand for the next few years,” junior Billy Fay said.

Two wrongs do not make a right. Nurmagomedov’s assault on McGregors’s team is not justified by McGregor’s assault on the Russian’s bus. Just as a punishment was handed out following the events in July, sanctions should be levied against Khabib, regardless of his talent as a fighter. It is easy to be sympathetic towards someone who had been racially abused, but by no means should Khabib leave a situation in which he initiated an attack on largely innocent bystanders unscathed. Dana White has already confirmed that the winnings of the fight have been withheld from both fighters and the victor could potentially be stripped of his newly earned title.

I believe both McGregor and Khabib should be held accountable for their actions before and after their fight at UFC 229, but I do not see either of them facing severe punishment.

— senior Jordan Rodriguez Anton

The action taken by the UFC in response to misconduct is often erratic; they seem to not have a standard punishment and rather respond on a case by case basis. The one trend that the UFC does seem to follow is that they are rather lenient on their starfighters. McGregor was not punished by his employer after the bus incident, showing a gross bias in the UFC’s treatment of their fighters. It can be assumed that McGregor will not be punished for the brawl after his latest match, as wrong as that may be. Khabib will surely see some discipline, but it is hard to imagine that the UFC will sanction their newest champion to an extreme. Dana White’s biased policies regarding misconduct will be in full force after his next decision, even if he chooses to make an example of McGregor and Khabib. Both should be punished for their roles in the assaults, but not as a means to soothe public outrage. They should be punished for violating clearly set out rules.