There are only a handful of rivalries in MMA that brought the whole sport to a halt! While Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier was perhaps the most intense rivalry between two highly accomplished competitors, Colby Covington vs Jorge Masvidal was definitely the most personal rivalry in the sport. However, Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor had aspects of both and played out on a much bigger scale.
While Conor and Khabib were on friendly terms before, the relationship soured over time. From Conor disrespecting Khabib’s father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov to “The Eagle” slapping Conor’s former best friend Artem Lobov, the rivalry got heated with each passing day and it came to a boiling point at UFC 229. The event took place on October 6, 2018, inside the T-Mobile arena.
The event remains the highest-selling UFC PPV of all time with 2.4 million buys. With a reported 20,034 fans in attendance, the event had an obscene $17.2 million in revenue as well. While the fight itself was onesided with Conor only managing to win one round, the aftermath was controversial. After finishing Conor in the fourth round with a neck crank, Khabib jumped the fence and attacked Conor’s team.
To be more precise, Nurmagomedov attacked Conor’s BJJ partner Dillon Danis. It started an all-out brawl which saw Conor being attacked by some of Khabib’s teammates as well. Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov, the fighters to attack Conor, were initially set to be released by Dana White from the UFC. However, only Tukhugov was a contracted fighter with the UFC at that point.
Later, Tukhugov along with Abubakar, only received a one-year suspension and a fine of $25,000 each from the Nevada commission. Nurmagomedov, the person who instigated the brawl, reportedly received a $500,000 fine. Along with the hefty fine, Nurmagomedov also received a 9-month ban from Nevada Athletic Commission. McGregor, the other fighter involved in the brawl, received a 6-month suspension with a $50,000 fine.
What did Dana White say about the UFC 229 brawl between Khabib and Conor McGregor?
Dana White was understandably unhappy with the proceedings after the bout. It was the biggest occasion that the sport had ever witnessed and the contest ended on such a controversial note. Famous celebrities such as Chirs Pratt, Matt Damon, and Mel Gibson were in attendance for the contest. On top of that, Nevada state Governor Brian Sandoval was also there according to Dana.
Hence, condemning the incident, White said, “I’m disgusted and sick over it.” He further added, “Nobody saw Khabib diving over there. You know he scaled that thing like he was a parkour guy. It happened so fast. The police did what they could do and the security did a great job of containing it.” (h/t via MMA Fighting)
After UFC 229, Khabib went on to retire in 2020 following two wins over Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje respectively. Conor, on the other hand, made a triumphant return to the cage with a KO win over Donald Cerrone. However, he then lost to Dustin Poirier successively at UFC 257 and UFC 264. The latter of which ended when Conor snapped his ankle. But Conor made his return with the TUF 31 coaching gig opposite Michael Chandler.