“I’m disgusted and sick over it.”
That’s all UFC President Dana White could tell FOX Sports following the melee involving the corners of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in Las Vegas.
During the fight, fans witnessed Nurmagomedov submit McGregor in the fourth round of their title fight. However, almost immediately after being pulled off his opponent, Nurmagomedov start gesturing towards McGregor’s training partner Dillon Danis before leaping out of the Octagon and charging into the stands.
This was exactly the type of incident White was hoping to avoid leading up to the fight.
“We had meetings with both teams before the it was during the [Ovince Saint Preux vs. Dominick Reyes] fight,” White told the media at the UFC 229 post-fight press conference. “We did another meeting with them on what’s going to happen. I was going in the Octagon and nobody else until I felt like we had control and I would determine who could come in and who couldn’t. Everybody signed off and everybody was cool.
“Nobody saw Khabib diving over there. You know he scaled that thing like he was a parkour guy. It happened so fast. The police did what they could do and the security did a great job of containing it.”
While Nurmagomedov and McGregor’s team tussled in the crowd, his own teammates swarmed into the cage in an attempt to get at the Irishman directly. Cameras would pick up McGregor getting into it with one of Nurmagomedov’s cornermen before being attacked from behind by another member of Nurmagomedov’s associates, who was seen jumping in from the crowd.
According to White, three men (whose identities are still to be confirmed) were arrested but later released after McGregor refused to press charges. However, he noted that if any of McGregor’s attackers were UFC fighters, they are expected to receive their walking papers due to their involvement in the brawl.
“The guys who jumped in will never fight here,” said White. “They’ll never fight here. I’ve been working hard for 18 years to build this sport. When you have such an amazing event that we’ve worked hard to build over the last several months and it goes perfect, I mean literally it was too eerie. I kept saying this is too crazy man. Everybody made weight, everything was so smooth. Security took all the right precautions. Those of you that have been to many events, you’ve never seen this many metro police officers in the building. Security was unbelievable.”
After both sides were separated, and emotions cooled down, Nurmagomedov made his way back to the Octagon to collect his UFC lightweight title, but White had no intention of handing over the gold, telling Nurmagomedov that doing so might cause tensions to reignite. Nurmagomedov was eventually escorted back by security without further incident, though he did show up at the post-fight press conference with title in tow.
White compared the scene to the second Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight. That infamous bout ended in a disqualification win for Holyfield after Tyson bit his ear and somehow devolved from there. Tyson aggressively pursued Holyfield afterwards, and then later climbed up into the stands after a fan hurled a water bottle at him.
“Listen, I was at the Tyson-Holyfield fight when that thing was crazy,” White said. “It just spilled out into the crowd then it spilled out into the casino and it just seemed like it wouldn’t stop. When it started that’s all I had visions of that because I was there it was f***ing scary. [Security] did a great job of containing it because usually that stuff spreads like a wildfire. So, props to them and thanks to them.”