Khabib Nurmagomedov has taken plenty of heat for inciting a brawl at UFC 229 on Saturday. But the head coach of Conor McGregor, Khabib’s biggest rival, hopes the lightweight champ isn’t severely punished for his actions.
As anyone with electricity knows by this point, Nurmagomedov kicked off an ugly melee, after he submitted McGregor, by leaping the cage and going after the latter’s teammate, Dillon Danis. In addition, reportedly two of Khabib’s teammates jumped into the cage and went after McGregor. The incident has marred the massive event, and what was Nurmagomedov’s greatest victory to date.
Well, since the event, McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, was a guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast. When the SBG leader was asked to weigh-in on Khabib’s actions at UFC 229, Kavanagh said this (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I hope [The Nevada State Athletic Commission] is lenient on [Nurmagomedov],” said Kavanagh. “Not just so we can get a rematch. I just love watching him fight. I can stretch myself to understand his reaction. I can’t stretch myself to understand [his teammates] reaction. For Khabib, it’s not the end of the world.”
“[Danis] actually didn’t say anything,” added Kavanagh. “I was standing beside Dillon. I didn’t see what he did but I could hear. He didn’t say anything. When I watched it back I could see him beckon [Nurmagomedov] on. It’s just stupid end of fight stuff. But it didn’t justify that level of response. Maybe there was something else in the build up. Dillon is a little bit of trouble online. But, like I said, it wasn’t that big of a deal to me what Khabib did. It just really wasn’t.
“Like I said, if Khabib had done that isolated, I didn’t think it was a big deal. He didn’t really hit Dillon. There was a bit of pushing and pulling. Who cares? But a man coming up, a trained fighter with bare knuckles, hitting a guy who’s tired, who’s taken some rounds and taking some shots, there has to be ramifications for that. An example has to be made….It’s criminal. It’s assault.”
There you have it. It’s been interesting to see the broader reaction to what unfolded on Saturday. There’s certainly been some calls for Khabib to be suspended for a long time, and some demands that he be stripped of the 155 belt. Then, there’s people who share Kavanagh’s opinion: it was an ugly incident, yes, and Nurmagomedov should be reprimanded, but not too severely. The lead-up to the grudge match was far from ordinary.
We shall see what happens.