UFC 223 on Saturday night was supposed to be a crowning moment for either Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson as they were scheduled to finally battle at the fourth time of asking for the lightweight championship.
Sadly, it turned out to be perhaps the most chaotic week in recent memory as nothing went right.
El Cucuy dropped out and Max Holloway stepped in. Blessed dropped out due to a weight cut, then three names emerged as potential opponents for Nurmagomedov. Paul Felder looked to be close, then NYSAC ruled out him. Anthony Pettis was even closer, but apparently, the UFC’s offer was too low.
In the end, Al Iaquinta stepped up but was dominated from the first round as The Eagle took home the lightweight championship and kept his unbeaten 26-0 record intact. However, all of the limelight fell on everything that was going on outside of the Octagon - mainly revolving around Conor McGregor.
The world knows what happened. A dolly was thrown by the Irishman through the window of a UFC bus carrying the red corner fighters, resulting in Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg unable to fight in Brooklyn. Since then, he’s appeared in court and has his next hearing on June 14.
It all boiled down to a hotel confrontation between the unbeaten Dagestani and the Notorious’ teammate and friend, Artem Lobov. Khabib confronted his fellow Russian about comments he previously made, and now we know exactly why Lobov was slapped, and what was said in the hotel scuffle.
The slap came down to what Lobov said in an interview with the Russian media. He was highly critical of Nurmagomedov, claiming McGregor and not Khabib is the real champion.
According to MMA Imports, he said: “Khabib pulled out six times already. He always pulls out of fights. If something hurts a little bit, his ass or whatever, he pulls out. He can’t even make weight. He doesn’t give a s**t about his fans, that everyone flew from Russia.
“Even getting a visa is a pain and travel expenses...all in order to see him and he doesn’t show up. And it’s not once. Not two, three or four times. Who is chicken here? Who is afraid? Conor shows up every time no matter what. He’s a true fighter, he’s a true champion. Champion isn’t just belt around your waist, it’s mentality, it’s your heart. Conor is a real champion and Khabib is not even close.
“Did you see Conor pulling out of a fight even once? Everyone has injuries, everyone has problems making weight, but one is a champion and shows up no matter what, and the other one is a coward who pulls out every time.”
So, it comes as no surprise that Nurmagomedov confronted him when they came face to face in New York. That infamous scuffle saw Lobov receive a slap, and a translated version has also surfaced so we know exactly what was said between the pair.
In the clip, Khabib said: “Don’t say my name, you understand me? You got it or not? I’m asking you...Say it to my face. You said I’m a p***y? Did you?”
Lobov responded by saying: “I didn’t say that.”
The Eagle added: “How you didn’t say? Say it to my face...You said I’m a p***y, didn’t you?”
Lobov denied it again, saying: “I didn’t say this.”
Khabib then added: “How you didn’t say? Don’t say such things anymore.” This was then followed by a little slap which clearly infuriated McGregor who hopped on a jet and flew over to Brooklyn.
It’s difficult to judge who is in the wrong in this whole situation, but it hasn’t shined the organisation in a positive light at all.
What do you make of this whole situation surrounding Khabib, Artem and Conor? Have YOUR say in the comments section below.