Khabib’s Explosion: Was it Unexpected and Justified?
By: William Holmes
“This is respect sport….This is not trash-talking sport…I don’t want people talk shit about opponents, talk shit about his father, religion. You cannot talk about religion. You cannot talk about nation. Guys, you cannot talk about this stuff.”-Khabib Nurmagomedov
The talk of the combat sporting world this weekend was the Khabib vs. Conor McGregor UFC fight, which featured Khabib picking McGregor apart before submitting him in the fourth round, then suddenly jumping out of the octagon cage and into the crowd to attack Dillon Danis, a member of McGregor’s team who was sitting cage side and allegedly taunting Khabib.
Chaos ensued afterwards and members of Khabib’s team jumped in the cage to attack McGregor. Suspensions will likely be given out, loss of purse and titles are also a possibility.
The sports world was divided. Were Khabib’s actions justified? Were his actions unexpected?
In order to attempt to understand Khabib, one first has to understand his background and where he is from, something that he was evidently trying to explain in his post fight explanation.
Khabib is from Dagestan, a Russian republic. It has been the forefront of Islamic Insurgency and ethnic tension since the 1990s. It borders Chechnya, the location of a severe conflict with Russia that often featured Chechen fighters infiltrating Dagestan to call for Jihad.
Khabib is a devout Sunni Muslim and well educated. He speaks several languages and is very proud of his culture and heritage.
Insults aimed at his religion or nation are not taken likely. I’m not arguing that Khabib is a terrorist or that he supports armed violent jihad, but pointing out that disrespect against his religion is taken very seriously.
So should we have been surprised by Khabib’s actions? Well, if you had some general knowledge about the region he is from, probably not. McGregor is notorious for his trash talking, but when he insulted Khabib he questioned the support Khabib has in his nation, mocked Khabib by offering him alcohol even though he’s a Muslim who does not drink, and called his manager a terrorist rat.
Khabib has been exposed to religious warfare and terrorism, and to lump him and his team with real terrorists was undoubtedly an insult that he could not ignore.
Khabib claims Dillon Danis hurled Muslim insults at him after the fight and that’s why he jumped over the fence, a claim Danis denies. But nobody should have been surprised that Khabib was still fired up after his fight with McGregor was over.
“I know my father’s gonna smash me when I go home because…I know he’s gonna smash me.”-Khabib Nurmagomedov
“I think that for Khabib, the most severe sanctions would be my regard. I am going to regard this severely. I warned him. For me, the most important thing is discipline. You can do whatever you want in the octagon, but beyond its barrier-this is the border separating civilians, there are children, women, bystanders.
This fight took place within the octagon. That’s the spectacle But I am categorically against fighting outsid the octagon. Outside of the octagon, you need to exist peacefully. Fight in the octagon.”
Now for the million dollar, or two million dollar question. Were his actions justified?
Pre-fight trash talk has been a part of combat sports for years. McGregor and Mayweather’s trash talk was probably more entertaining than the actual fight itself.
But even though Mayweather and McGregor insulted each other greatly leading up to the fight, they were able to be cordial in the post fight interviews.
It’s difficult to find too many situations where a fighter leaped into the crowd immediately after a fight to engage someone in the crowd.
But there has been several situations where members of a boxer’s team jumped in a cage to start a brawl, and they were usually dealt with by the commission harshly.
Roger Mayweather jumped in the ring when Floyd fought Zab Judah and was hit with a low blow and a punch behind the head. An all out melee ensued when members from both camps entered the ring and brawled. Afterwards, Yoel Judah was fined $100,000 and had his license revoked for a year. Roger Mayweather was fined $200,000 and had his license revoked for one year. Leonard Ellerbe was fined $50,000 and had his license revoked for four months. Even Zab Judah received a fine of $350,000 and had his license revoked for a year.
Another example of a brawl happening in boxing was during the riot during the first Riddick Bowe/Andrew Golota fight. The fight was stopped after Golota landed several low blows on Bowe after repeated warnings. Members of Bowe’s security team jumped in the ring and went after Golota.
Rock Newman, Bowe’s manager and promoter, was suspended for a year and fined $250,000 for the incident.
More recently, one would have to look at the fight between Jose Uzcategui and Andre Dirrell, which featured Leon Lawson Jr., the Uncle of Dirrell, sucker punch Uzcategui. Lawson was suspended by the Maryland State Athletic Commission and faced criminal charges as a result.
Of course, one of the most famous post fight brawls or sucker punches was when James Butler sucker punched Richard Grant on ESPN after he lost his fight. He was charged with assault and suspended. In fact, he served four months at Rikers Island as a result.
Were his actions, jumping into the crowd to attack bystanders, justified? Precedent by athletic commission for boxers and members of their team behaving poorly and attacking fighters after a sanctioned fight is over are usually dealt with harshly.
There really isn’t any specific precedent to determine if the actions of Khabib were justified, but it appears likely that the commission won’t find any justification for a fighter to jump into a crowd to start a wild brawl, and will also likely deal with him harshly.
Justified? Also no.
Khabib’s punishment awaits.
UFC 229 Results: Khabib Submits McGregor and Immediately Shames MMA
By: William Holmes
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for the biggest UFC PPV of 2018, featuring a main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor for the UFC Lightweight Title.
Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account
The arena was starting to fill by the time of the first fight of the main card of the ppv, a strawweight woman’s bout between Michelle Waterson (15-6) and Felice Herrig (14-7).
Waterson opened up with using her kicks more like jabs and was effective with her front leg side kick to the thigh. Herrig was able to land a solid straight right in the opening round, but Waterson was more effective with her strikes.
Herrig was able to get Waterson’s back against the cage in the early moments of the second round, but Waterson was eventually able to break free and land a hard high kick to the head of Herrig before throwing her to the ground. Waterson was able to finish the second round with some strong ground and pound.
Herrig was able to find some success in the third round with her dirty boxing and was able to defend one of Waterson’s takedown attempts and maintain control on top. But Waterson was able to land some hard elbows from the bottom and briefly threatened with an omoplata.
The final scores were 30-26, 29-28, and 30-27 for Michelle Waterson.
The next bout of the night was a heavyweight bout between Former M1 Heavyweight Champion Alexander Volkov (29-6) and Derrick Lewis (20-5) .
Volkov was the much taller fighter and was controlling the first round with his reach and counter right hands. He was able to get side mount and transition to taking the back of Lewis, but Lewis was able to regain top position and land some short elbows as the round ended.
Volkov was able to stun Lewis with a combination in the opening minutes of the second round and had the left eye of Lewis swollen. Lewis took several hard shots but was able to stay on his feet.
Lewis took several hard right hands form Volkov in first half of the third round but showed he had a strong chin and took his best shots. Lewis looked like he was going towards a decision loss but he landed a devastating right cross followed by some concussive ground and pound that turned off the lights of Volkov.
Derrick Lewis wins by shocking knockout at 4:49 of the third round.
The next bout of the night was between Ovince Saint Preux (22-11) and Dominick Reyes (9-0) in the light heavyweight division.
Reyes, a southpaw, exchanged body kicks with Saint Preux in the opening round and was able to stuff the takedown attempts of Saint Preux. Reyes was able to land some short elbows to the side of Saint Preux’s head on some of the takedown attempts, and had Ferguson is applying pressure. Lands a hard straight right.
By the second round Reyes had landed six times the number of strikes that Saint Preux had landed, and had the forehead of Saint Preux badly bleeding. Saint Preux looked exhausted near the end of the second and Reyes had built a comfortable lead.
Saint Preux needed a stoppage in the final round to pull out the victory and he did press the action, but Reyes was able to fight wisely and suddenly landed a stunning left cross to the chin of Saint Preux that sent him crashing to the mat as the round came to an end.
Dominick Reyes wins by decision with scores of 30-27 on all three scorecards.
The co-main event of the night was between Tony Ferguson (25-3) and Anthony Pettis (21-7) in the lightweight division.
Ferguson looked like the significantly bigger man but was hobbled by leg kicks from Pettis early on. Ferguson and Pettis both tried spinning back fists in the opening round and were able to land hard shots, but Ferguson was landing the harder shots.
Pettis was able to drop Ferguson early in the second round, who had blood pouring out of his mouth from the shots of Pettis. Ferguson was able to cut Pettis to and get back to his feet and recover, and continued to apply continuous pressure and pound on Pettis from cage side to cage side. Pettis had a cut by his hairline and the ringside doctor took a look at it but allowed the fight to continue. Pettis got tagged badly several times as the round came to an end.
When Pettis went back to his corner he told his corner he broke his hand and his corner stopped the fight
Tony Ferguson wins by TKO at the end of the second round due to a broken right hand on Anthony Pettis.
The main event was between Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) and Conor McGregor (21-3) for the UFC Lightweight Title.
McGregor, despite being the bigger draw, entered the Octagon first to a positive fan reaction and Khabib entered second to mainly boos and jeers.
McGregor pressed forward in the opening round and was able to land an overhand right and some low leg kicks. Khabib went immediately for a takedown and McGregor was able to immediately stop it. Khabib completed the takedown and finished the round on top of McGregor but was not able to do much damage from there.
McGregor got tagged with an unexpected vicious overhand right in the second round by Khabib that had McGregor mometarily hurt. Both were throwing hard, wild punches and Khabib goes in for a takedown and is able to finish it. Khabib lands some hard ground and pound through the remainder of the round and at one point threatens McGregor with a kimura but doesn’t finish it.
McGregor had a much better third round and was able to tag Khabib with several combinations and stuffed his takedown attempts. McGregor appeared to gain some momentum this round and Khabib showed signs of tiring.
Khabib appeared fired up at the end of the third round and was yelling at McGregor as he went back to his corner.
Khabib opened up the fourth round by throwing a wild two punch combination but missed wildly, and McGregor was able to land with a two punch combination of his own. Khabib goes in for a takedown and completes it and transitions into a full mount. Khabib lands some heavy ground and pound before before taking McGregor’s back and sinking in a rear naked choke.
McGregor is forced to tap and Khabib doesn’t immediately let go. As Khabib rises to his feet he appears to spit in the direction of McGregor and immediately begins yelling at the corner of McGregor.
Khabib, who just had the biggest win of his career, then goes nuclear and jumps out of the octagon and goes after one of McGregor’s cornermen and starts a fight in the crowd.
All hell breaks loose and one of Khabib’s teammates jumps in the ring and begins unloading on McGregor. It takes several minutes before officials are able to restore order.
Khabib, still enraged, demands his belt but Dana White refuses to put it on him. Khabib is escorted out of the cage and into the back with a lengthy suspension almost certainly to follow.
A career defining win for Khabib turns into one of the most shameful moments in MMA history.
UFC 229 Preview: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada will host the biggest pay per view of the year in either boxing or MMA as the UFC Lightweight Title will be up for grabs when undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov faces Conor McGregor in the main event of the evening.
McGregor is the UFC’s biggest draw, and Khabib is McGregor’s toughest test to date in MMA. This blockbuster event will be getting a lot of attention in the mainstream media leading up to Saturday.
The co-main event of the evening will be between Anthony Pettis and Tony Ferguson in the lightweight division. The winner of this bout will likely be in line for a future title shot against the winner of Khabib and McGregor.
Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account
The undercard has some intriguing fights throughout. Ovince Saint Preux will face Dominick Reyes in the light heavyweight division, Derrick Lewis will face Alexander Volkov in the heavyweight division, Sergio Pettis will face Jussier Formiga in the flyweight division, and Michelle Waterson will face Felice Herrig in the Women’s Straweight division.
The UFC tends to show more fights on their pay per view offerings than boxing so five fights will likely be televised.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and the main event of the night.
Anthony Pettis (21-7) vs. Tony Ferguson (23-3); Lightweights
The winner of the co-main event of the night will likely move on to a future title shot.
Anthony Pettis was once considered a top rated contender, but he has struggled recently and has only gone 3-3 in his last six fights, and actually has a losing record of 3-5 in his last eight fights.
Tony Ferguson has been on a roll and is currently riding a ten fight win streak. However, his activity is of some concern as he has only fought three times since the beginning of 2016, while Pettis has fought seven times since the beginning of 2016.
Ferguson is 34 years old and three years older than Pettis. Ferguson will have a very slight two inch height advantage on Pettis.
Both fighters like to finish their fight. Of Pettis’ 21 victories, 17 have come by way of stoppage. 18 of Ferguson’s victories have come by way of stoppage.
There really is no such thing as an easy fight in the UFC. Pettis has defeated the likes of Michael Chiesa, Jim Miller, Charles Oliveira, Gilbert Melendez, and Benson Henderson. His losses were to Rafael Dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Max Holloway, and Dustin Poirier.
Ferguson’s only losses were to Michael Johnson and two lesser known fighters very early in his career. He has defeated the likes of Kevin Lee, Rafael Dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, Josh Thomson, Gleison Tibau, Abel Trujillo, and Danny Castillo.
Pettis might have a slight edge in striking, but Ferguson has a strong edge in grappling. Ferguson was a NCWA Collegiate National Champion in Wrestling and was a high school state champion in Michigan. Pettis didn’t pick up on grappling until later on in his life.
Ferguson should win this fight by decision. He’s never been stopped by strikes in his career, and that’s Anthony Pettis’ best weapon.
Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) vs. Conor McGregor (21-3); UFC Lightweight Championship
As stated earlier, there really is no such thing as an easy fight in the UFC, and that’s why it’s very impressive for Khabib Nurmagomedov to have an undefeated record.
Khabib is a fighter with a very strong grappling background. He was born in Dagestan, Russia and has never lost. His win streak currently stands at 26 victories in a row.
Both Khabib and McGregor are 30 years old, though Khabib will have a two inch height advantage on McGregor.
Khabib has a history of injuries and trouble making weight, though he has made weight for this weekend. 16 of his 26 wins were by stoppage, with eight by TKO and eight by submission.
McGregor’s excitement as a fighter is much more than his personality. Of McGregor’s 21 victories, 18 have come by TKO/KO and one by submission. Only two of his wins were by judges decision.
Neither fighter can consider themselves to be super active since 2016. Khabib fought once in 2018, once in 2017, and twice in 2016. McGregor did not fight yet in an MMA cage in 2018 or 2017. He fought three times in 2016 and was last seen competing in a boxing ring when he was stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr.
McGregor has beaten the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Nate Diaz, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Dennis Silver, Dustin Poirier, and Max Holloway. His losses were to Joseph Duffy, Nate Diaz, and Artemij Sitenkov.
Nobody has ever beaten Khabib. He has defeated the likes of Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza, Michael Johnson, Darrel Horcher, Rafael Dos Anjos, Thiago Tavares, and Gleison Tibau.
One of the biggest factors that jumps out at this writer is that McGregor’s three losses were all by submission and he’s facing a fighter who’s known for being a very strong grappler. Khabib has finished 8 previous opponents by submission.
If McGregor is going to win he’ll have to stop Khabib with strikes, it’s difficult to imagine him keeping the fight standing for five rounds.
Even though McGregor recently signed a lucrative contract extension with the UFC and is their most popular fighter, his recent inactivity and weakness in grappling will likely be issues that Khabib will exploit.
This writer feels that Khabib’s strengths will make for a very bad matchup for McGregor on Saturday.