While the focus following UFC 229’s post-fight brawl has been squarely on lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, it appears Conor McGregor is going to receive the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s attention as well.
The NSAC withheld Nurmagomedov’s $2 million purse on fight night. That led to speculation that he was the only one under scrutiny during the NSAC’s investigation into the post-fight brawl that began when the Dagestani fighter launched himself over the Octagon fence and then at McGregor cornerman Dillon Danis in the crowd. In a Monday interview with ESPN, NSAC chairman Anthony Marnell said that the commission plans to file complaints against Nurmagomedov and McGregor, and may pursue other individuals involved as well.
“We will be filing against Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov,” Marnell said. “Because we withheld one purse, we will have to move expeditiously to a complaint and hearing. We have held 100 percent of one of the fighter’s money. Temporary suspensions will be out shortly, and we’re shooting for a final hearing date in November.”
There is no question the Nurmagomedov was the one that initiated the physical altercations that ensued on Saturday in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean he is the only one at fault in the situation. There is video footage that was not on the UFC 229 broadcast that shows McGregor trying to climb over the fence, as well as him punching other individuals. There is also footage of multiple individuals climbing into the cage from outside, one of them sucker punching McGregor from behind.
The NSAC is reviewing all the available footage it can find, as well as interviewing various individuals that were involved.
Two of the individuals believed to be involved – Zubaira Tukhugov and Islam Makhachev – are currently UFC fighters. Company president Dana White has said that any fighters involved outside of McGregor and Nurmagomedov would “never fight (in the UFC).” But it also appears they could be facing some sort of action from Nevada, as well.
Tukhugov in particular could be in hot water, as he is claiming to be the individual that struck McGregor.
“There are a lot of things here,” Marnell told ESPN. “There are a lot of charges that can be brought against a spectator who came over the barricade, through the commission section and into the Octagon to strike a fighter three times. For the record, I have a massive problem with that. That cannot happen.
“We’re taking a really hard look at that gentleman. We know exactly who he is and where he is. I have to let the attorney general determine — is that trespassing, disturbing the peace? That was a serious action and it deserves a serious consequence.”
To be sure, Nurmagomedov is likely to face the steepest of consequences because he was the one that ignited the brawl by leaving the Octagon to pursue Danis. McGregor, however, has been in involved in numerous altercations surrounding events in the past, which may be taken into account when considering the gravity of his actions.
Regardless, Marnell is not taking the incident lightly. He considered the infamous promotional event scuffle between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier a serious issue, but put the seriousness of this altercation on a much higher level.
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“This is a serious issue, this is not a light issue,” Marnell 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, and it needs to stay inside that field of combat. There are serious regulations and statutes about what took place, and the consequences have to match the actions.”
He indicated that fines and suspensions are always on the table for consideration, but didn’t indicate any scale to what might be considered appropriate punishments for the individuals involved.
In 2014, Jones was fined $50,000 and ordered to complete 40 hours of community service for his part in the scuffle with Cormier, where they tumbled off of a platform when facing off for photographers. Cormier was fined $9,000 and ordered to complete 20 hours of community service.
It’s likely that neither of those punishments scratches the surface of what Nurmagomedov’s sanctions will be, as he earned a disclosed $2 million for Saturday’s bout to McGregor’s $3 million. At UFC 182, where Jones and Cormier fought in the cage after the promotional scuffle, Jones earned a disclosed $500,000, while Cormier made $90,000. The Nevada Commission typically bases any fines it assesses as a percentage of a fighter’s purse.
Marnell stated that there was no chance that the incident would be up for a hearing at the commission’s Oct. 24 meeting, but instead expected it to happen at an as yet unscheduled meeting in November.
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