LAS VEGAS: Unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov will not be stripped of his UFC lightweight title despite his role in a post-match brawl Saturday, UFC president Dana White said.
The 30-year-old Russian kept his crown with a fourth-round submission victory over Ireland’s Conor McGregor in Las Vegas, improving to 27-0 in his professional career and 11-0 in UFC bouts.
McGregor was issued a 30-day competition suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) after the bout, among several short-term bans for fighters on the card in what is a common move after MMA bouts, with no contact allowed until October 28 before McGregor’s ban expires on Nov. 6.
Nurmagomedov had barely released his hold after McGregor tapped out when he launched himself over the Octagon fence, apparently targeting McGregor’s training partner, Dillon Danis, as security tried to quell the chaos in the crowd.
Nurmagomedov was hustled out surrounded by security officers as a pro-McGregor crowd jeered and threw drinks at him.
While UFC president Dana White did not present Nurmagomedov the title belt, fearing arousing the crowd’s ire, he told TMZ in video posted on the UFC website that the Russian would not be stripped of the title and any punishment for the melee after UFC 229 would likely come from the NAC not the UFC.
“He absolutely keeps his title,” White said. “And he’s going to get suspended (by the NAC), so maybe you give him a four-to-six month suspension.”
White said the NAC has not given Nurmagomedov his prize money pending an investigation of the situation and could impose a fine for his actions.
“(The NAC) took his whole purse right now and they are talking about keeping his purse. I do not think that that should happen,” White said. “You should not be able to keep his whole purse.”
White said he thought the NAC should take a $250,000 fine.
White told TMZ pay-per-view record MMA sales numbers above two million buys for the show made him “a little giddy” but he added that Nurmagomedov made the wrong decision to enter the crowd after a heckler from McGregor’s camp.
“I don’t think there’s too many people who don’t understand why he did it, but he shouldn’t have done it,” White said. “He’s the world champion. He just beat Conor in front of the entire world. Stand up, get that belt wrapped around you. You won. The guy who’s yelling at you means nothing.”
White wasn’t sure what the future held for Nurmagomedov as far as opponents. McGregor says he wants a rematch but the NAC must rule first on just when the undefeated champion can return to the Octagon.
“We have to see how this stuff plays out with Khabib,” White said.