McGregor wants rematch: White

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov carrying his champions' belt as he is escorted by fans upon arrival in Makhachkala, Dagestan, yesterday. The Russian defeated Conor McGregor of Ireland in their UFC lightweight championship bout by way of
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov carrying his champions' belt as he is escorted by fans upon arrival in Makhachkala, Dagestan, yesterday. The Russian defeated Conor McGregor of Ireland in their UFC lightweight championship bout by way of submission in Las Vegas.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

But Irishman and conqueror Khabib could be penalised for post-bout brawl at UFC 229

LAS VEGAS • Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White has not ruled out a rematch between Conor McGregor and unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov despite their fight at the weekend ending in ugly scenes.

However, any potential meeting could be in jeopardy after the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) said it will file formal complaints against both fighters.

Nurmagomedov forced McGregor to tap out in the fourth round at UFC 229 before he leapt into the crowd and fought with Dillon Danis, one of his opponent's trainers.

In the chaos that ensued, three of his teammates scaled the cage to attack McGregor, who yesterday received a one-month medical suspension from the UFC.

The Russian later apologised for his actions but said he had been provoked during the build-up to the fight, when McGregor had mocked his religion, father and country.

The Irishman posted on social media after the bout that he would like to meet Nurmagomedov again.

"Good knock, looking forward to the rematch," he tweeted, before later saying that "the war goes on".

Nurmagomedov continued his war of words with McGregor after returning home to a hero's welcome yesterday.

A crowd of some 20,000 fans chanted his name non-stop in an arena in the town of Kaspiysk, 14km from Dagestan's capital Makhachkala and Nurmagomedov took the opportunity to mock his opponent, calling him a "dimwit".

"Thank you, brothers," said Nurmagomedov, who showed off his title belt that was not put around his waist after the fight because of security fears.

"I'd prayed to the Almighty every day not to have injuries," he added. "I wanted to shut up that dimwit up to prove the difference between our people and his people.

"Nobody can break us, our people have a great history. Hopefully, I've justified your expectations."

A grudge fight would be likely to generate huge revenues - as shown by the record live gate of US$17.2 million (S$23.8 million) - despite the distaste generated by the fracas, and White said McGregor wanted to lock horns again.

"(Nurmagomedov) has to go before the Nevada commission (after his US$2 million purse from the fight was withheld due to the brawl), and we have to see what's going to happen with Khabib and this whole mess," he told ESPN on Monday.

"But McGregor has already called me, wanting a rematch."

NSAC chairman Anthony Marnell told ESPN that hearings about possible disciplinary measures against the fighters would not be heard until at least next month.

"This is a serious issue, not a light issue," he said. "This isn't, 'We smacked each other in the face in a hotel lobby the week of a fight'. This is the night of the event.

"There are serious regulations and statutes about what took place, and the consequences have to match the actions. Temporary suspensions will be out shortly."

Many believe that McGregor had crossed the line from trash talking to bigotry with his constant goading of Nurmagomedov.

However, White said neither fighter was blameless.

"I didn't see Khabib jumping over the cage like that. He got over that thing quick and was going after one of Conor's cornermen," he added.

"There's no doubt he's justified for being upset, but first of all, you just won the fight against the biggest superstar in all of sports.

"You just beat him while the whole world was watching...

"The only one getting hurt in this thing now is Khabib."

Nurmagomedov could face the possibility of being stripped of his belt by the UFC if he is slapped with a lengthy ban, and Marnell confirmed that the Russian would face both a fine and suspension.

"It's always both. At least in the chair's mind, the commission will be entertaining a recommendation from the (state) attorney-general that will include both."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'McGregor wants rematch: White'. Print Edition | Subscribe