(Video Via: UFC YouTube)
The most highly-anticipated fight week in UFC history had finally arrived. Conor McGregor’s relentless verbal attacks hadn’t started any pre-fight scraps of consequence. Khabib Nurmagomedov’s camp hadn’t responded by going after any of the Irishmen’s SBG teammates, and both men made championship weight. In many ways, it was surprisingly perfect.
The day of the fight began with the same elevated sense of the tension-fueled anticipation that everyone had been feeling all week. But at that point, the eerie calm that filled fight week was still enough to convince the masses that the biggest bout in UFC history was mere hours from going off without a single hitch. For many who’d be attending the event, and for those who’d soon be watching from around the world, ignorance truly was bliss.
Just six months ago, Nurmagomedov and his entourage confronted McGregor teammate Artem Lobov after he gave the reigning lightweight champ a very unflattering label due to his history of withdrawing from fights at the last-minute. As a result of that confrontation, McGregor brought his own crew into the bowels of Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center in an attempt to settle their beef. But the incident ended when McGregor threw a steel dolly through the bus window after he was unable to lure his Russian rival into a street fight on what was then labelled as “The worst day in UFC history”.
In the months, weeks and days leading up to UFC 229, video footage of the now-infamous bus attack was constantly shown on television and online as part of UFC 229’s pre-fight promotions. In this case, the UFC’s decision to use footage of McGregor’s infamous actions to promote the long-awaited lightweight showdown didn’t mean that Dana White and company condoned what he did that day. It was a key part of the story, and as such, had to be included in the UFC 229 pre-fight promotions.
But while many fight fans and members of the MMA media were more than happy to openly admit that McGregor’s actions on that dark April day had significantly increased their interest in the fight, most were utterly shocked when Nurmagomedov leaped over the cage to attack SBG coach/Bellator welterweight Dillon Danis immediately following the Russian’s dominant win.
From the beginning, we knew that the bad blood between Nurmagomedov and McGregor didn’t simply stem from the usual pre-fight trash-talk. We knew that this was different. We welcomed the added intrigue, the pre-fight insults and the idea of these two tearing into each other. And many purchased the UFC 229 pay-per-view hoping for some degree of chaos to unfold.
As of Wednesday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission is planning to file complaints against both Nurmagomedov and McGgregor, and a suspension now seems inevitable for at least the lightweight champion. The two UFC fighters and members of Nurmagomedov’s camp who attacked the Irishman after jumping in the cage–Zubaira Tukhugov and Islam Makhachev, are both in hot water with the UFC and have undoubtedly hurt their long-term standing with the promotion. Dana White has even said that the co-main event slot between Lobov and Tukhugov has been shelved at UFC Moncton. So to some extent, everyone involved is likely to face a penalty.
Of course, those unfamiliar with the reality of the situation will remain shocked at what they saw last Saturday. But both dedicated fans and members of the MMA media knew that things had the potential to get out of hand, and anyone doubting that needs to ask themselves why he or she happily consumed every second of the pre-fight theatrics before dropping 80 bucks on a pay-per-view that resulted in the new, so-called “Worst day in UFC history”.