Khabib Nurmagomedov choked out Conor McGregor to defend his lightweight championship at UFC 229 but sadly that’s not the story that most will remember from Saturday night.
With a packed house at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nurmagomedov moved to 27-0 with a dominant performance against the former two-division champion over 15 plus minutes. The end came in the fourth round after Nurmagomedov took McGregor down, got his back and locked on the rear naked choke to get the submission win.
Immediately after the win, Nurmagomedov stood over McGregor while shouting at him and then threw his mouthpiece in the direction of the Irishman’s corner.
From there it was absolute mayhem as Nurmagomedov leapt over the cage and went after McGregor’s teammate Dillon Danis with a full on brawl breaking out in the crowd. Security attempted to intervene and then out of nowhere one of Nurmagomedov’s teammates sucker punched McGregor inside the cage before more officials could separate the fighters.
The melee continued until McGregor was finally pulled out of the Octagon and UFC president Dana White refused to put the belt around Nurmagomedov’s waist out of fear that the crowd might start throwing objects into the Octagon.
Finally, Nurmagomedov was led from the cage with fans showering him with boos at the end of an ugly scene in Las Vegas.
Sadly the brawl is what everybody will be talking about on Sunday and beyond but prior to that Nurmagomedov was dominant as he dismantled McGregor over three plus rounds in the UFC 229 main event.
As soon as the fighters were released from their corners, McGregor was on the attack with his strikes but after landing one sharp straight punch, Nurmagomedov was quick to grab onto a leg and go for the takedown.
While McGregor defended well early, Nurmagomedov was relenteless with his wrestling and he eventually put the Irishman on his back.
The Russian maintained control for almost the entire round from that moment as he kept McGregor on the mat and continued to put pressure down on his hest throughout the five minute session.
Nurmagomedov surprised just about everybody inside the T-Mobile Arena when he blasted McGregor with a monstrous right hand to open the second round that hurt the former two division champion.
— UFC (@ufc) October 7, 2018
McGregor attempted to fight fire with fire but Nurmagomedov came forward, picked him up and brought the fight crashing back down to the ground.
With two minutes to go in the round, Nurmagomedov began unleashing some devastating ground and pound while smashing McGregor with punches. It looked for a moment like McGregor might not survive the round with Nurmagomedov unleashing hell on him with a relentless attack.
Somehow, McGregor gutted out the round and actually worked his way to the feet but it was clear after two rounds that Nurmagomedov was in control.
Enduring that kind of punishment might have broken some fighters but McGregor is definitely in a category all by himself. McGregor came out with confidence in the third while maintaining a strong striking attack and stopping Nurmagomedov from taking him to the ground.
McGregor wasn’t able to hurt Nurmagomedov much but he definitely landed the better shots throughout the round to mount a comeback. What McGregor did very well was start to eat away at Nurmagomedov’s gas tank after he exerted a lot of energy through the first two rounds.
Still, Nurmagomedov went back to his corner and never showed an ounce of weakness despite likely losing the first round of his UFC career.
As the fourth round got underway, Nurmagomedov was back on the attack almost like he took the third round off to catch his breath and he was quick to put McGregor back down on the mat yet again.
— UFC (@ufc) October 7, 2018
From there it was all Nurmagomedov as he mauled McGregor on the ground, passed his defense and got into position for the rear naked choke. Nurmagomedov didn’t get his arm under the chin but the pressure was mounting and McGregor had no choice but to tap out, calling a stop to the contest at 3:03 into the fourth round.
As impressive as Nurmagomedov’s performance was inside the cage, he likely wiped away whatever good will he earned with what transpired after the fight. Several people have said that Danis was shouting insults at Nurmagomedov following his win, but it still doesn’t excuse leaping over the cage and engaging in a brawl in the cage side area.
Now Nurmagomedov could be facing fines, a potential suspension or even legal action after what unfolded following his win over McGregor on Saturday night.