It turned out that when Khabib Nurmagomedov finally extracted a submission from Conor McGregor at UFC 229, the real action of the night was only about to start. As the whole world was made quickly aware, the Russian’s temper flared, punches were thrown and what can only be described as a melee ensued. McGregor may well have been pleased by the outcome, if not the result, because it distracted attention from what could well have been seen as something of a humiliating defeat for the Irishman. What’s more, he was quickly able to claim the moral high ground by refusing to press charges on the three Russian sidekicks of Nurmagomedov who assaulted him after the fight.
As to the fight itself, most spectators agreed that it was one that McGregor never looked like he was going to win. The first round was attritional with both fighters warily circling each other but by the second round it was a very different story.
Catching McGregor early with a right hander, the Russian saw him wobble, moved in to grapple him against the cage and brought him to the ground. It was then that it seemed like a re-run of the Mayweather encounter was on the cards as McGregor hit the canvas and punches were rained down on him. But just as it looked like it might be all over McGregor rose to his feet with 46 seconds remaining in the round.
In round three he did a little better with a number of left-handed jabs but it was the leg sweep in round four that brought him to the ground again and Nurmagomedov could finally press home his advantage. This surprise result immediately got fans eagerly anticipating a re-match and the chance to make some money on the outcome safe in the knowledge that you can bet on UFC at 888sport.
But as to what happened after the referee had called off the fight, it was no real surprise, especially after all the trash talk that had been adding to the tension for months before the finally met. Then there was the notorious incident in New York in April when McGregor was found guilty of throwing a trolley at a bus containing other fighters on the UFC 223 media day for which he was ordered to undergo anger management training.
So it’s all the more ironic that now the tables have turned and that, although the Russian has received the vocal support of Vladimir Putin as well as advice ftom his father not to punish him too severely, it is he who is in the biggest trouble of all with the Nevada State Athletic Division withholding his share of the purse while it investigates and all other sanctions hanging very much in the balance.
So no one can say at this stage if or when a rematch might possibly take place, or what extra security measures may be needed. But the one thing that is for certain is that it will certainly be an encounter to savour.