Manager: Khabib ‘done with Vegas’ after ban

LAS VEGAS — Khabib Nurmagomedov[4], who with Conor McGregor[5] was one of four fighters suspended and fined by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday, has no interest in competing in the state of Nevada again, his manager told ESPN.

“He’s done with Vegas for giving his brothers such harsh punishment,” Ali Abdelaziz said. “He loves MSG [Madison Square Garden]. Lots of his fans live around there, and New York has always been good to him. He misses fighting in New York.”

The suspensions and fines handed down Tuesday for the fighters’ respective roles in a postfight melee at UFC 229 in October were the result of a unanimous vote by the NSAC.

The NSAC voted to suspend Nurmagomedov (27-0) for nine months and fined him $500,000 of a disclosed $2 million purse. The suspension is dated retroactively to Oct. 6, the date of UFC 229, meaning he is eligible to return July 6. Additionally, the NSAC offered to reduce the suspension to as little as six months if Nurmagomedov participates in a local anti-bullying campaign.

McGregor (21-4) received a six-month suspension and was fined $50,000. He will be eligible to return to competition as soon as April 6.

Nurmagomedov’s cousin, PFL lightweight Abubakar Nurmagomedov[6], and teammate Zubaira Tukhugov[7] each received a one-year suspension and $25,000 fine, which Abdelaziz told ESPN that Khabib Nurmagomedov would pay.

Dillon Danis, a McGregor teammate and professional fighter for Bellator MMA, also is facing punishment. His case will be resolved at a later date.

Abdelaziz said Khabib Nurmagomedov would not fight for the UFC until his teammates are able to resume their respective careers, which means he is not interested in fighting until at least Oct. 6, 2019 — when their suspensions expire.

Nurmagomedov, Abdelaziz said, is now targeting a return to action in November at MSG at a yet-to-be announced event.

The UFC 229 melee occurred immediately after Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round of their lightweight championship fight at T-Mobile Arena. Nurmagomedov, of Dagestan, leaped out of the Octagon and jumped into McGregor’s corner to confront Danis.

McGregor was restrained from jumping out of the Octagon, but traded punches with Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Tukhugov, who had entered the cage. The commission and Las Vegas police eventually defused the situation. No serious injuries or arrests were reported.

The Nevada commission launched a formal investigation into the matter after the event, which delayed the sanctioning process. All of the punishments that were voted on Tuesday were negotiated ahead of time between the Nevada attorney general’s office and the respective parties.

“We are grateful to the commission for their serious focus and the decision which will allow fans to see their favorite fighter return to the Octagon,” McGregor’s manager, Audie A. Attar, told ESPN on Tuesday.

Nurmagomedov posted his reaction to the penalties on Twitter.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” Abdelaziz said of the fines. “Khabib gets $500K and Conor gets $50K? I think it’s bulls—.”

The NSAC also penalized several of the fighters’ cornermen and teammates.

The suspensions also will be upheld outside Nevada, as all commissioners — including the UFC — will respect the decision of the NSAC.

UFC 229 was the highest-selling pay-per-view in company history, much of which was attributed to the bad blood between Nurmagomedov and McGregor. In April 2018, five months before they fought, McGregor attacked a bus Nurmagomedov was riding in during a fight week in Brooklyn.

McGregor, of Dublin, already has stated he is “looking forward to the rematch” with Nurmagomedov, although the UFC has not indicated whether that will be the next contest for either fighter. Earlier this month, McGregor acknowledged a potential matchup against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone[9] on social media.

If there were to be a rematch, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has listed Khabib Nurmagomedov (-300) as a hypothetical favorite over McGregor (+240).

ESPN’s Ben Fawkes contributed to this report.

References

  1. ^ Close (www.espn.com)
  2. ^ Close (www.espn.com)
  3. ^ @arielhelwani (twitter.com)
  4. ^ Khabib Nurmagomedov (www.espn.com)
  5. ^ Conor McGregor (www.espn.com)
  6. ^ Abubakar Nurmagomedov (www.espn.com)
  7. ^ Zubaira Tukhugov (www.espn.com)
  8. ^ January 29, 2019 (twitter.com)
  9. ^ Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (www.espn.com)