Although Khabib Nurmagomedov apologized to the commission, after he kick started a brawl at UFC 229 by going after Dillon Danis, but it doesn’t sound like the lightweight champ would do anything differently.
Since Saturday night, Nurmagomedov has been under fire from many folks, for leaping over the cage in an apparent effort to attack Danis. The incident has largely overshadowed Nurmagomedov’s impressive, fourth round submission win over superstar, Conor McGregor.
Well, since the massive victory, Khabib has returned to his native Dagestan. While reflecting on the bout, at an event to celebrate his victory, Nurmagomedov reportedly said this (quotes via RT):
“I prayed to God for one thing, to be left alone in the cage with this clown. I asked him this every day,” Nurmagomedov said.
“I prayed that we would have no injuries, that we would make weight, and regain our strength, and finally be locked in that cage. Because a lot was said outside that cage, and I said that once that octagon door is shut, I am not responsible for my actions.”
“The first thing I wanted to show him, is the difference between our people, and his people. We know our history, our ancestors, and what our people have been through. Nothing can break us.”
“And with what happened afterwards, some people say I did the wrong thing, others that I did the right thing,” he added. “You can’t confine an eagle to a cage. And I showed them that.”
So, clearly this feud is far from over, and no burnt bridges are being rebuilt. It’s been interesting to monitor the reactions to Khabib’s actions, both on the night it happened and since. It seems like now that we’re a few days removed from the ugly incident, calls for Khabib to be stripped of the title or suspended for a year or more are dying down. After all, thankfully no one was seriously hurt in the brawl, and the lead-up to the fight was particularly nasty.
But, when your hear Nurmagomedov still talking about “our people” and “his people”, you have to seriously consider whether the UFC needs to let things cool off for a bit, and look beyond McGregor for Khabib’s next opponent. If they were booked to fight again, say, in six months time (this is assuming Nurmagomedov will be eligible to compete), the pre-fight lead-up could be even more dark and heated.
Then, of course, there’s also the meritocratic argument, which is a very sound one, that Tony Ferguson, and not McGregor, should fight Khabib next.