As Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Conor McGregor via fourth round submission at UFC 229, a lot of the talk was taken away from his performance in the cage.
The discussion of the night was mainly centered around Nurmagomedov’s actions post-fight, that saw the Russian champion leap over the octagon fence and attack McGregor’s teammate Dillon Danis.
An exhausted and defeated McGregor was also in the thick of the madness as he was seen brawling with his opposition's teammate, Zubaira Tukhugov, who was captured attacking the Irishman from the back as he landed a succession of blows.
Nurmagomedov and McGregor were condemned by the MMA world for their actions and both handed suspension from the Nevada Athletic commission.
As the focus was taken away from Nurmagomedov’s successful lightweight world title triumph an acclaimed MMA trainer believes even more important details have gone unnoticed.
Firas Zahabi, who is apart of the Tristar Gym that has homed to the likes of two weight UFC world champion George St-Pierre and Bellator welterweight world champion Rory Macdonald, questioned the fouls McGregor got away with against Nurmagomedov.
Zahabi broke down the fight and gave a detailed analysis on the bout on his YouTube channel.
The trainer pointed out an illegal knee McGregor landed on Nurmagomedov, and the Irishman’s holding of the fence and his opponents shorts.
Zahabi on McGregor's fouls during the fight
“McGregor got away with so many fouls,” Zahabi said. “To the point that Khabib — he left his corner between round three and four to tell the ref ‘hey, why are you letting him get away with all these things?’
“First of, the worst foul- he kneed Khabib illegally from the bottom.
“McGregor was holding the fence on the last takedown. When Khabib pulled to take his McGregor’s back, he was blatantly holding on to the fence. That was probably his seventh or eighth foul that night.
“He had put his toes on the fence after being told not to. He was obviously grabbing Khabib’s gloves, maybe two or three times. Khabib was talking to the referee saying ‘he is holding my gloves.’
Zahabi was quick to mention this kind of foul play from McGregor was uncharacteristic and the trainer questioned whether the Irishman’s actions were a sign of desperation.
“Why would McGregor do this? He doesn’t seem to do this in his other fights,” he said.
“That’s a question for him, but I think he might have been fighting for his life. He might have felt ‘look, I am being overwhelmed here, I need every single ounce of help I can get.’"
“He might have been in a panic mode, and I think I could understand. Being so smashed against somebody so heavy, so based, and you feel you can’t move him — you start to get desperate. You’ve never felt anything like that, a pressure like that. You might panic a little.
“I assume he was getting desperate. He probably felt like he was suffocating in there,” he said.