Leading up to UFC 229, video of the now infamous bus attack by Conor McGregor was featured prominently in videos promoting his showdown with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
After the UFC 229 headliner was marred by a post-fight brawl that could lead to multiple fines and suspensions, some have suggested that the UFC encouraged the behavior displayed by Nurmagomedov and his training partners at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this past Saturday.
During an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday, UFC President Dana White disputed that notion.
“This is a fight. The way that we promoted this fight, was exactly the way that this thing played out. That’s all part of the storyline,” White said. “Believe me, almost 20 years I’ve been doing this, we’ve had plenty of fights where there’s lots of bad blood, and all kinds of things like this happen. And we don’t have fights after the fight. We have scuffles with guys in the back. This is the fight business, and a lot of people don’t like each other. That’s a stupid opinion.”
According to White, the Las Vegas-based promotion was prepared for an altercation between Nurmagomedov and McGregor, but nothing quite like what actually occurred.
“We knew that some things could happen after the fight. We had everything in place to make sure that didn’t happen,” White said. “I didn’t see Khabib jumping out of the cage like that. He got over that thing quick and was going after one of Conor’s cornermen who was still talking, staying stuff to him after the fight.
“The crew that we had in place did a good job containing this thing so it didn’t get out of control. Not our best moment.”
Nurmagomedov made a brief appearance at the UFC 229 post-fight press conference, where he apologized but mostly chose to defer the blame for the incident to McGregor.
"He talk about my religion, he talk about my country, he talk about my father, he come to Brooklyn and he broke bus,” Nurmagomedov said. “He almost kill a couple of people. Worry about this. Worry about this s—t. Why people talk about I jump over the cage? I don’t understand.”
White can understand Nurmagomedov’s perspective to a certain extent, but he points out that the best revenge occurred in the Octagon, when “The Eagle” made his rival tap out.
“There’s no doubt that he’s justified for being upset,” White said. “But first of all, you just won the fight. You just beat the biggest superstar in all of sports, let alone our sport. You just beat him in front of the whole world. The whole world is watching. It really wasn’t about him and Conor in that moment; he was going after one of his cornermen.
“But the only one that’s gonna get hurt out of this thing is Khabib….All the things that were said and whatever – you won the fight. You had the opportunity to stand up there and get the belt put on you in front of the whole world. Now you’re gonna stand in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It was a bad decision in the heat of the moment.”