ESPN – 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, Professional Fighters League lightweight Abubakar Nurmagomedov, and teammate Zubaira Tukhugov each received a one-year suspension and $25,000 fine, which Abdelaziz told ESPN that Khabib Nurmagomedov would pay.
There is a ton to dissect and discuss here so what better time to do it than when you’re dying for anything at all to think about it other than the week at hand.
To lay these punishments out next to each other in an easily digestible fashion:
(All suspensions retroactive to date of the melee, which was 10/6/18)
Conor McGregor: 6 month suspension, 50k fine
Khabib Nurmagomedov: 9 month suspension, 500k fine
Nurmagomedov’s two teammates: 12 month suspension, 25k fine each
Briefly, I want to touch on the NSAC. Between this and the recent bizarre hearing with Jon Jones, it is clear that there is no rhyme or reason to anything they do. Every time I think they have some sort of method to their madness, BOOM a week like this happens. It always reminds me of this:
What I’m saying that is that to an extent I feel like the NSAC is an arbitrary entity and they are only there to give people quasi-important jobs. Kind of harsh, Joe.
Khabib and Dana are both varying degrees of flummoxed that Khabib got such harsh punishment, with “The Eagle” even stating he will never fight in Nevada again. But…bruh. You jumped out of the cage throwing some sort of crane kick at McGregor’s crew and caused absolute CHAOS. Yes, after some video review, Conor did due some jawing to cause his arena of UFC War I, but there’s a difference between some instigating and jumping out of the fucking cage for the sole purpose of assault.
Fight game-wise, there are a quite a few repercussions coming out of this. More and more it has become apparent the MMA game is basically dominoes, where one fairly straight forward event like a suspension being handed down means career implications for a number of people not even remotely involved.
First and foremost, Khabib has come out and said he will not fight until his teammates suspensions are up as well. This means he will not return to the cage any sooner than October 6th. If you remember, he actually threatened to never fight again if the UFC cut the one who fights under their banner. He is deadly serious about this as well, loyalty above all us for our favorite Dagestani. The Lightweight division is currently stacked with talent so there is no way they can wait that long for some movement at the top of the division. With that said, I’ve seen some calls for Khabib to get stripped which is Goddam ridiculous. Not only have a lot of other champs not been stripped during much longer absences, but Khabib is the surefire, no questions asked numero uno in that division. Why would you strip him?
Now an interim fight? That is a much more serviceable idea. This is a biased take as I don’t vehemently despise interim titles nearly as much as some people. There is nothing morally reprehensible, however, about staging a fight between Tony Ferguson and Dustin Poirier sometime this spring for the interm belt with the winner fighting Khabib in the fall in NYC. Who loses there? Hell, I saw a tweet with someone proposing a grand prix at lightweight featuring Ferguson, Poirier, Kevin Lee, Edson Barbosa, Justin Gaethje, Al Iaquinta, Cowboy, and McGregor. Absolutely batshit but how fun would that be? Also, if Ferguson vs. Poirier is sooner than later and Cowboy-McGregor, which both fighters are jockeying for, happens soon as well, the winners could fight this summer to determine who fights Khabib. The bottom line is I don’t see a reason why the 155lb division, one of the most exciting in the UFC, has to be put on hold while the Champ waits to return.
The most riveting, fascinating part of this story, what truly set twitter ablaze with a cacophony of pitches, storyboards, and yes, memes, was the stipulation that Khabib could get a reduced sentenced if he participates in an anti-bullying PSA. Like what in the actual fuck? How is the melee after UFC 229 REMOTELY related to bullying?
But can you imagine the wealth of ways this PSA could be the most amazing thing your five senses ever came into contact with? ”
“Bullying is the #1 bullshit?” “You have bully? I smash bully. Send me location.”
If you didn’t know, Khabib Nurmagomedov has a Pedro Martinez way with the English language. He is about 99% fluent, something he worked hard at by the way, but does have an odd, sort of simple way of phrasing things and the structure of his sentences do sometimes come with a degree of disorder. But like K-dro, you get the sense he knows this. He knows that he has a sort of cult following partially based on how he delivers his ideas. We hang on every word he says because the very strategy he takes in delivering it could turn it into an absolute humdinger of a quote. And again, I think to an extent he is fully aware of this phenomenon. So you imagine him taking these talents to an anti-bullying add….
Scene: A bully pushes a kid against his locker and takes his lunch. He calls him a nerd as he walks away. The bully looks over his shoulder to sneer and laugh at the kid one last time. When he turns back around BAM Khabib double legs him halfway to Kingdom Come. The bully turns and gives up his back trying to army crawl away, whimpering, and ends up getting rear naked choked by Khabib. As he turns purple, Khabib looks into the camera and says. “Bullying not cool. I stop bullying. Choke, kimura, smash it don’t matter. Bullies: they send me location.”
Imagine something like that? Fucking gold. Khabib was made for this. It’s Khabib time, roll out that red carpet baby.
What we have here is an ultra-talented division whose champion is refusing to fight for ten months. There is a desperate need for direction there and the UFC needs to formulate a plan how to proceed before the fans and fighters alike stage a coup. There is also the matter of the Champ, maybe now the third most popular fighter PPV-wise behind McGregor and Jon Jones, refusing to ever again fight in Vegas, the fight capital of the world. All in all however, we could see this result in a number of fun fights in that division and a LEGENDARY anti-bullying PSA from Khabib. The next few weeks should provide a lot of the answers we’re looking for.
HUUUUUUUUUGE weekend of fights this week so enjoy.