Well, that was something. Last night the UFC held arguably their biggest fight in the history of the promotion and it went off without a hitch, for the most part. Every single fighter on the card made weight, nobody had any fight canceling injuries. The stage was set for a perfect fight night.
I only caught the main card and every fight besides the main event was absolutely excellent (we’ll get to that). I was particularly impressed by the Derrick Lewis vs Alexander Volkov and Tony Ferguson vs Anthony Pettis fights. Derrick Lewis in particular put on the performance of the night. That man was getting hammered for 90% of the fight and pulled through in the last minute to score a knockout. His post fight interview was without a doubt the highlight of the whole night.
The Ferguson vs Pettis fight was insane too. I was disappointed that they had to stop it when they did because they were scrapping in every sense of the word. It’s just a shame that Pettis shattered his hand. Ferguson is one mad motherfucker. I’d like to see him face McGregor sometime in the near future. I could go into more detail on the undercard but there’s honestly just so much to talk about with the main event and I don’t want to be here all night.
In what is probably the most anticipated MMA fight of all time, Conor McGregor came up against Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov for the Lightweight strap. It’s no secret how much bad blood there was between these two guys and their teams in the build-up to the fight. These guys HATED each other. After the whole incident which saw McGregor throw a trolley at Khabib’s bus after he cornered McGregor’s pal Artem Lobov with his team, there was no going back.
To absolutely nobodies surprise, they didn’t touch gloves before the fight, these lads just wanted to get in there and kill each other. I really wish I could say that the main event was as good as the undercard fights but it really wasn’t. Obviously, I was rooting for McGregor here. Unfortunately, he was totally outclassed by Khabib. Khabib had him looking like an amateur for the majority of their 4 round snooze fest. It’s a known fact that McGregor’s wrestling is a major flaw in his game and Khabib took that and used it to pick him apart.
Only in the third round did we see McGregor stay on his feet for enough time to make any impact but at this point he was gassed from being on his back for the first two rounds. The fight could have easily been stopped in round two when Khabib was raining down punches to McGregor’s face with little response. Conor was a very lucky boy to make it out of that round.
Ultimately, as we’ve seen before, it was McGregor’s woeful grappling and submission defence that let him down. He let Khabib take his back in the 4th round and tapped to a rear naked choke, the same move that made him tap in his first Diaz fight. This was Khabib’s moment to put it all to bed and walk out undefeated, still champion, and as one of the all-time greats. Until he fucked it for himself.
Immediately after McGregor tapped, Khabib launched himself over the cage and into the crowd to confront Conor’s team. And by confront, I meant jump on and throw slaps. He went straight for Dillon Danis and a riot broke out. To be fair, Dillon caught him clean with a few shots when Khabib landed. Most people would have legged it.
Unfortunately, the shitshow didn’t stop there. While all this was happening, some of Khabib’s team decided to scale the cage from the outside and attack McGregor. One of them approached him from the front and the other jumped him from behind. It was sickening. How much of a fucking coward do you have to be to jump a man who’s just been choked out from behind?
Khabib made his way back into the cage and the madness continued. Daniel Cormier, one of the most respected fighters in the UFC and a teammate of Khabib tried to hold him back and reason with him. Khabib was having none of it and was still trying to lunge at people. You’re a different kind of stupid if you’re ignoring DC.
The UFC was extremely lucky that they hired extra security, knowing how much bad blood there was between the two teams because it could have gone a lot worse. Both men had to be escorted by police from the octagon because I think if they stayed any longer, an actual riot would have broken out. Dana White refused to put the belt on Khabib afterwards, rightly so because again, an actual riot was bubbling. As Khabib was being escorted he got pelted with stuff from the crowd as he went through the tunnel.
So what does this finish mean? For one thing, Khabib has absolutely fucked his reputation and I can’t imagine he’s going to be let off lightly for this. All he had to do was literally not jump into the crowd and start scrapping to top off what was a perfect night. Even if he just took the belt and left, it would have been fine. What he did was extremely damaging for a few reasons. For one, the crowd was already heated before the fight with hardcore Irish and Russian fans clashing at the weigh-ins the night before. Khabib lunging for McGregor’s team lit a fire and allowed the fighting to spill out onto the street. Videos surfaced almost immediately of Irish and Russian fans clashing in Las Vegas. It didn’t need to be that way.
Secondly, Khabib’s actions tarnish the reputation of MMA as a sport as well as his own reputation as a respectful fighter. With this being McGregor’s big return fight after 2 years away, the PPV numbers were through the roof. This was an event for more than the hardcore UFC fans. This was a fight that would have had people who’ve never seen an MMA fight in their life order just to see what it’s about. This isn’t what UFC events are like. Look at the ending of any of McGregor’s last fights. It always ends with a respectful embrace win or lose.
Thirdly, the Irish media are 100% going to have a field day over this. For some reason, a huge chunk of Irish people refuses to recognise MMA as a real sport and look at it as a circus. I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see a UFC event come to Ireland ever again because of this finish.
The only winners off the back of that finish are sports journalists and clickbait websites. Something as big as this kicking off gives them UFC content for the next month. They must feel like Christmas came early.
It’ll be interesting to see what sanctions are put out after this. It truly was a finish that Vince McMahon would be proud of for Wrestlemania. Unfortunately, this isn’t Wrestlemania, this is real and will go down as one of the darkest days in UFC history. Regardless, Khabib still walks away with the dominant victory, the belt (unless it’s stripped) and his perfect win record in tact. McGregor walks away with a lot to think about and a lot to work on (grappling). I can’t see them having a rematch any time soon and it’s very hard to tell what’s next for these fighters. If I was to hazard a guess, I’d say Khabib vs Ferguson and McGregor vs Diaz.
Until Next Time,
All photos courtesy of The Guardian