Khabib can keep his belt

A joyous UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov upon his return to Makhachkala, Dagestan, on Monday. The vanquished Conor McGregor wants a rematch, but he has to serve a "medical suspension", while the Russian is set to be banned for a period b
A joyous UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov upon his return to Makhachkala, Dagestan, on Monday. The vanquished Conor McGregor wants a rematch, but he has to serve a "medical suspension", while the Russian is set to be banned for a period by the NAC.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

UFC boss blasts him over brawl but feels he should be fined and not lose payout

LOS ANGELES • Unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov will not be stripped of his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight title despite his role in a post-match brawl last Saturday, UFC president Dana White said in a website posting on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Russian kept his crown with a fourth-round submission victory over Ireland's Conor McGregor in Las Vegas, improving to 27-0 in his professional career and 11-0 in UFC bouts.

McGregor, meanwhile, was issued a 30-day competition "medical suspension" by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) after the clash, in what is a common move after MMA bouts to allow fighters to sufficiently recover from their injuries.

The fight was marred by Nurmagomedov launching himself over the Octagon and attacking McGregor's training partner Dillon Danis immediately after the Irishman had tapped out.

The Russian was hustled out, surrounded by security officers, as a pro-McGregor crowd jeered and threw drinks at him.

While White did not present Nurmagomedov the title belt, fearing that he would arouse the crowd's ire, he told TMZ in a video posted on the UFC website that the Russian would not be stripped of the title and any punishment for the melee after UFC 229 would likely come from the NAC, not the UFC.

"He absolutely keeps his title," White said. "And he's going to get suspended (by the NAC), so maybe you give him a four-to-six month suspension."

 
 

White also said the NAC has not given Nurmagomedov his US$2 million (S$2.76 million) prize money pending an investigation of the situation and could impose a fine for his actions.

"(The NAC) took his whole purse right now and they are talking about keeping his purse. I do not think that that should happen," he said. "You should not be able to keep his whole purse."

White added that he thought the NAC should instead hand out a US$250,000 fine.

The 49-year-old also told TMZ that while pay-per-view numbers for UFC 229 were above two million buys and it made him "a little giddy", he felt that Nurmagomedov made the wrong decision to enter the crowd to go after a heckler from McGregor's camp.

"I don't think there are too many people who don't understand why he did it, but he shouldn't have done it," White said.

"He's the world champion. He just beat Conor in front of the entire world. Stand up, get that belt wrapped around you. You won. The guy who's yelling at you means nothing."

McGregor has said that he wants a rematch but the NAC must rule first on when Nurmagomedov can return to the Octagon.

"We have to see how this stuff plays out with Khabib," White said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2018, with the headline 'Khabib can keep his belt'. Print Edition | Subscribe