An all-out melee famously followed three years ago, but in a testament to its long-standing impact in the sport, a video of the brawl has, once again, gone viral on social media this week.
The fight itself lasted four rounds before McGregor waved the proverbial white flag by tapping Khabib’s shoulder in submission. But The Eagle kept seeing red.
It was a UFC-record live gate of $17.2 million in ticket sales, but even the 20,034 fans in attendance would not have braced themselves for what transpired after the headliner.
Seeing Dominance MMA President Rizvan Magomedov being shoved by McGregor’s jiu-jitsu coach Dillon Danis outside the Octagon, Khabib jumped over the cage and launched himself past an officials’ table onto the floor, attempting to throw his lethal hands at Danis.
Papa Pandemonium swiftly made an appearance in the Octagon as two of Khabib’s teammates Zubaira Tukhugov and Islam Makhachev began to attack McGregor. The latter landed a couple of punches on the Irishman before the officials and security personnel present in the cage blocked his reach.
After the melee, Khabib was fined $500,000 and handed a nine-month suspension, while McGregor was handed a $50,000 fine and a six-month suspension. Khabib later tweeted “politics forever,” drawing attention to the magnitude of his fine as compared to the Irishman’s.
Khabib apologised after the fracas, but underlined how he was provoked in the build-up to the blockbuster fight. The undefeated Dagestani fighter pointed out that McGregor had mocked his religion, his father and his country leading up to their showdown in Sin City.
All in all, UFC delivered on the bad-blood rivalry between two of MMA’s most vaunted superstars; Conor McGregor, brimming with swagger and myth, and Khabib Nurmagomedov, stone-faced, all heart and technique.
The violent aftermath of one of the biggest fights in UFC history did little to tarnish UFC’s image, though. If anything, it drew more attention to UFC’s brand as a hardcore, no-holds-barred MMA organisation showcasing box-office fights.