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How should Khabib Nurmagomedov be disciplined for his role in the melee at UFC 229? Should UFC keep the lightweight title on him? If you strip him who fights for the title?
Cole Henry, MMATorch contributor
I honestly don’t think that I would give Khabib a severe punishment. The clearest comparison that I can think of is the Nashville brawl and though it was in a different commission I think that the punishment should be similar. The fighters involved in the Nashville Brawl were suspended for three months and hit with 5000 to 7500$ fines depending on the level of involvement. I think that a three-month suspension and a 10% fine from his total purse would be appropriate. He should ABSOLUTELY NOT be stripped of his title unless he gets hit with a multi-year suspension. Even if he is suspended for six months to a year I would keep the belt on him. He is money right now and his next fight will be huge. And why punish him if you are the UFC? Regardless of which side of the isle you fall on I think its pretty clear that the UFC 229 post event brawl has made for one of the biggest stories of 2018 and its helped launch Khabib in the main stream consciousness.
If Khabib is stripped the obvious fight to make would seem to be Tony Ferguson vs. Dustin Poirier but hopefully it doesn’t come to that.
Frank Hyden, MMATorch Contributor
I think a fine would be okay. A suspension or stripping him of the title would be a bit much, in my opinion. Though I suppose they could strip him and book Tony Ferguson vs. the Nate Diaz-Dustin Poirier winner to crown the new UFC Lightweight Champion, then have Nurmagomedov fight the loser of Diaz-Poirier and if he wins that, he gets the next title shot. That’s a little WWE-style booking the UFC could use to keep the heat on Nurmagomedov while still feigning authority and pretending that they didn’t approve of or like what happened.
Because let’s be real, the UFC loved every second of what happened. Now, if a fan or media member or somebody like that had gotten hurt, that’s a different story. However, no one got hurt and everyone was talking about it, and is still talking about it. Some will clutch their pearls and claim this is bad for the sport or leaves a stain on the sport or something like that, but that’s just not true. MMA was built as an outlaw sport, a cool sport. You can be corporate and still be outlaw, though it is a fine line to walk.
There’s a reason there’s been decades of press conferences in boxing, even though a lot of them end in a brawl and yelling and stuff. You don’t want to overdo it or it becomes parody, but a little out of control action every so often is good for business. It feeds the anti-authority nature we all have. A lot of people were living vicariously through Khabib when he jumped the cage and went after Dillon Danis and talking about how it was a gangster move.
The UFC has to be the authority figure, though. They have to do everything they can to uphold the integrity of the sport. UFC can secretly love what happened Saturday night, but they can’t admit it. They have to do something so I think the best bet is a hefty fine, and maybe another fine or two in his next fight or two. Something like that would be good. Stripping him would be too much in my opinion because he didn’t attack a fan or test positive for PEDs.
David McGrath, MMATorch Contributor
I think he should get a 4-6 week suspension, be fined $250,000 and not be stripped.
Sean Covington, MMATorch Contributor
Khabib should be fined and very small fine at that. After not disciplining Conor McGregor, which is what led to all of this, Khabib should get a slap on the the wrist.
I wouldn’t dream of stripping him, not after what they let Jon Jones do and then do again before they stripped him.
Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch Managing Editor
Khabib Nurmagomedov’s punishment for his role in the brawl needs to be fairly stiff. Based on what I saw on the broadcast and what Nurmagomedov said following the event, this was a calculated attack that he knew he was likely to execute after the fight. Khabib had just won the fight, he had no need to be angry or go after anyone. There wasn’t enough time for Khabib to be reacting to anything going on outside the cage that would provoke him to fight. He got the tap from Conor McGregor, had to pried off by Herb Dean, had a few words for McGregor and then sought out McGregor’s corner before jumping the cage, and you know the rest.
Nurmagomedov’s remarks after the fight indicate that this was a pre-meditated act and not something that was provoked in the moments after the fight. Khabib mentioned that McGregor should not have brought religion and family into the trash talk leading up to the fight. This tells me that Khabib had decided what he was going to do well before it happened.
As for a punishment, a suspension in the range of one year feels appropriate. Any suspended fighter should be stripped of a championship by the promotion. So that leaves us without a lightweight champion. Tony Ferguson looked great on Saturday so he would have to be in there. Let’s also assume McGregor will be out for a while. With Dustin Poirier injured, I would begrudgingly accept a Ferguson-Diaz title fight, but that’s a bit of a farce. The lightweight championship fight I really want to see is Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje.