Khabib Nurmagomedov claims Conor McGregor make offensive remarks about his Muslim faith after post-fight brawl
LONDON: Khabib Nurmagomedov said he was sorry for the part he played in the post-fight brawl that took place after his victory over Conor McGregor, but insisted he was provoked after the Irishman made inflammatory comments about his religion.
The Russian submitted McGregor in the fourth round of their UFC lightweight title fight before jumping over the Octagon to attack the Irishman’s team. There then followed a huge melee involving both fighters and many of their entourages.
Both men were eventually given a police escort out of the T-Mobile Arena with UFC boss Dana White later revealing that three members of Nurmagomedov’s team were arrested.
But the 30-year-old Muslim pleaded that he was not to blame for the sorry post-fight scenes.
“This is not my best side. He talked about my religion, my country, my father,” Nurmagomedov said.
“He came to Brooklyn, he broke bus and nearly killed two people. So why do people still talk about me jumping over the cage? I have shown respect.
“This is a respectful sport. This is not a trash-talking sport. I want to change this game. You cannot talk about religions and nations.
“This for me is very important. Thank you for waiting for me. I know my father is gonna smash me when I go home. Nevada: Sorry. (Las) Vegas: Sorry.
“He took a picture with Putin. But Putin just called me and told me he is proud of me. And he said congratulations.”
UFC chief White refused to hand Nurmagomedov his belt, saying he feared it would further inflame the crowd.
“If I put this belt on you, everyone’s going to start throwing shit into the Octagon,” he told Nurmagomedov.
White said a suspension and “big money fines” could be looming for Nurmagomedov, who might also find himself facing difficulties obtaining a visa to fight in the United States in the future.
McGregor was returning to mixed martial arts for the first time since November 2016, having detoured in 2017 to a cross-combat boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather which ended in defeat — but still earned McGregor some $100 million.
His return sparked massive interest, with White predicting the bout would break the UFC record of 1.65 million pay-per-view buys.
The crowd included a mass of chanting, flag-waving Irish fans as well as a sprinkling of celebrities including Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Mel Gibson and Northern Ireland golf star Rory McIlroy.
Taking on the powerful champion from Dagestan in his comeback fight was a risk for McGregor, but the drumbeat for a showdown between the two intensified in April, when McGregor was at the center of an extraordinary melee in New York.
McGregor hurled a dolly through a window of a bus filled with other UFC fighters at the Barclays Center — apparently angered that Nurmagomedov had intimidated one of the Irish fighter’s friends, Artem Lobov.
Two athletes were injured and McGregor pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a Brooklyn criminal court in July in a plea deal that allowed him to avoid jail time.
All felony counts were dropped and he was ordered to do five days of community service.