Khabib Nurmagomedov recorded his biggest, and many would say his most impressive win to date on Saturday night. But, due to his actions after the UFC 229 main event, will Nurmagomedov be holding the lightweight title for much longer?
For nearly twenty minutes on Saturday, we saw why Nurmagomedov is one of the baddest fighters on the planet. “The Eagle’s” wrestling and top game presented Conor McGregor significant issues, as many predicted would be the case. Then, in round four, Nurmagomedov finished the massive bout, with a painful looking neck crank that forced McGregor to tap.
But, as you know, it was Khabib’s actions immediately after that have dominated headlines. The undefeated fighter jumped the cage, in an apparent effort to get at McGregor’s teammate, Dillon Danis, and an ugly melee ensued. Within moments of the incident, Twitter was on fire with speculation that the incident will cost Nurmagomedov the lightweight crown.
Well, at the post-fight presser, here’s some of what Dana White had to say about that very subject (quotes via Bloody Elbow):
“No, it’s not 100% (that Khabib won’t be stripped),” White said. “The thing is, we’re regulated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, or whatever state we’re in. The Nevada State Athletic Commission is gonna go after him, I’m sure pretty hard. He doesn’t have to worry about me right now, he has to worry about Nevada.”
“…The Nevada State Athletic Commission is gonna hand down some type of fine, suspension, or whatever’s gonna happen,” White said. “It’s up to them, we’ll see.”
“Listen, if he gets suspended, depends on how long his suspension is, and yeah, he’s probably gonna get stripped if it’s a long suspension.”
So, there’s a few things to look at here. One, it’s somewhat notable that White didn’t outright come out and say, ‘yes, the UFC is going to strip Khabib,’ as a result of what he did. Sure, maybe this will change once White meets with the UFC brass etc, but, it doesn’t sound like Khabib’s going to be stripped right now as a result of what took place. It should also be noted that the UFC didn’t directly discipline Conor either, for his well documented actions at the media day for UFC 223.
Does this mean, then, that Nurmagomedov won’t be stripped? No. As White noted, if the NSAC decides to suspend Khabib for say a year or more, or they revoke his license, then the UFC could decide to move forward with the lightweight title, and strip Khabib of the belt. If that happened, chances are we’d see Tony Ferguson fight McGregor for the vacant belt. Or, another interim title could be created (yes…again).
But, will the NSAC suspended Khabib for a year? A suspension of that length would be kind of surprising. A sizeable fine, and a shorter suspension seems more likely, but you never know.