The UFC 229 Brawl will be talked about for a long time, and for good reason. It was an absolutely crazy ending to a night full of crazy fights. There have only been a few situations similar to this one in the history of MMA. There could be a champion fined, suspended, and/or stripped. A few fighters will likely lose their spots on the roster. Khabib Nurmagomedov will undoubtedly receive the most flak for the brawl taking place. But, he should not receive most of the blame. The UFC, the company itself, should be blamed for the crazy brawl that took place.
UFC At Fault for UFC 229 Brawl
All of this drama between Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor began way back in April at UFC 223. Everyone by now knows how things transpired. Khabib and a group of his teammates confronted McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov. McGregor, obviously not happy with his teammate being confronted, hopped on a plane from Ireland to Brooklyn. And, as we know, dollies were thrown, bus windows were shattered, and fighters were injured. Since this didn’t happen at a live event, both the New York State Athletic Commission and the UFC were not involved with the punishment process. It was a legal matter, that was settled with McGregor having to take anger management courses and perform community service.
The bus incident relates to the UFC 229 brawl because of how the UFC handled the situation then. Outside of his legal slap on the wrist, McGregor didn’t receive any extra punishment from the UFC. They were happy to get him on a fight card as soon as they possibly could. The major issue comes with how the UFC used the bus incident as the main advertising point leading up to UFC 229. They didn’t mind showing McGregor’s illegal actions to help sell some extra pay-per-views. They had no problem with Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg having to be reminded of their injuries and their fights getting canceled each time they saw an advertisement for UFC 229. Dana White pretended to be disgusted, but as soon as McGregor was there to help make the company money, all was well again. The company, by using the incident for advertising, essentially took the stance of being perfectly fine with the event happening, as long as it would make them more money.
Brawl vs Bus Incident
Certainly, there are differences between the UFC 229 brawl and the bus incident. First of all, no one was injured in the brawl, at least not that we know of. The major difference is that the brawl happened in a live arena full of fans with everyone around the world watching. Khabib made a mistake by jumping out of the cage to attack Dillon Danis, there’s no way around it. But, no matter which angle you take, it’s hard to say that the brawl was worse than the bus incident. No one was hurt, Khabib was confronting another professional fighter, nut just a random fan, and there wasn’t really any damage done. Nothing that compares to two fighters getting hurt and pulled from fights, property damage, and emotional distress for Rose Namajunas, anyway.
Time to Censor Trash Talk?
Khabib came right out and said in his post fight press conference that people shouldn’t be talking about him jumping the cage. They should be talking about McGregor mocking Khabib’s father and religion. McGregor made the buildup to the fight very personal, something he always does. Khabib rightfully was offended by everything McGregor said. Joe Rogan even said on the broadcast that Danis was instigating Khabib and was insulting him from cage side during the fight. Suddenly, Khabib starts to appear as less of a villain and more of a regular man who is willing to fight to defend his family and religion.
The blame shouldn’t fall on McGregor for the buildup getting personal. He is not the only one who gets personal leading up to fights, not even close. The UFC should be blamed for encouraging such dialogue and always making sure to use it in the advertising and video packages for fights. They should be blamed for being bad at promoting fights on their own. Instead of expecting fighters to personally insult each other to help sell a fight, the company should be promoting fights based on the actual fights. Dana White, in his press conference, already said that trash talk wouldn’t be censored. He used his usual “This is the fight game” line. But, as the guy who deals with the business side of things, he could and should be doing much better when it comes to promoting fights. It shouldn’t have to get to the point of bringing family, religion, country, and whatever other personal factors into the conversation.
Hypocritical to Punish Khabib
With McGregor’s bus incident, the UFC clearly set a precedent for settling this type of issue. Don’t do anything at all was the route they took. Let the legal troubles be sorted out and then don’t punish the fighters additionally. It seems pretty clear at this point that Khabib didn’t do anything illegal. Despite what people will say, he didn’t assault Dillon Danis. Khabib barely touched him.
The issue now comes with the fact that Khabib’s punishment will be determined by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. If they decide to suspend him, it would mean that he couldn’t fight in Nevada during the suspension. But, not wanting to burn bridges with the commission, UFC likely wouldn’t let Khabib fight anywhere. White has made it apparent that the commission will likely come down hard on Nurmagomedov. So, until a decision is made, all that can be done is to speculate.
If Khabib is stripped of his title, that decision will come strictly from the UFC. White has already stated that if Khabib receives a long suspension, he will be stripped. This would be a very hypocritical decision for the UFC to make. For an incident that was clearly less damaging than the bus incident, Khabib would be receiving a much harsher punishment from the company than McGregor did. It’s an overall sticky situation for the company. They can strip the best lightweight in company history, and in doing so they would clearly be violating a precedent that they previously established themselves.