LAS VEGAS, October 7. /TASS/. Russian mixed martial arts fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov apologized at a news conference for his behavior after a fight with Ireland’s Conor McGregor at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 229 tournament in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Nurmagomedov defended his lightweight title, securing victory by submitting his opponent in the fourth round. After the fight a mass brawl broke out between the teams of both fighters, including Nurmagomedov, who jumped out of the cage and attempted to beat one of the Irish opponent’s team members in response for insulting him. According to UFC President Dana White, the incident was started by Nurmagomedov. Only representatives of the Russian fighter’s team were detained after the mass brawl. White stressed that the Nevada Athletic Commission would investigate the incident.
"I want to apologize before the entire Vegas and the Athletic Commission [in Nevada]. This is bad, but how people can tell me why I jumped over the fence when someone speaks about my religion and my father. Mixed martial arts is not a sport with insulting, this is sport with respect for a rival, and I want this to be so, I want to change this game," Nurmagomedov said.
"I know that my father will punish me when I come back home, but I’m invincible and an absolute champion," he stressed.
Nurmagomedov also told reporters that Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated him on his victory on Sunday. "Putin called me after all this and congratulated me on the victory saying that he is very proud."
Russian MP Dmitry Svishchev, a member of the Committee on Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs, told TASS that Nurmagomedov should not have fallen for provocations after crushing his Irish opponent.
"Frankly speaking, I have mixed feelings after the fight. On the one hand, I’m glad that the Russian won the victory, but on the other hand, bearing in mind what had been before the fight, namely the press conference, for me this was a "dirty" fight," the lawmaker said.
"Certainly, [the moment] when our athlete attacked the Irish’s fans after the fight does not arouse positive emotions. I understand that there were provocateurs and instigators, but the athletes understood the kind of the fight and jumping out of the octagon and attacking the fans - this is not a sporting behavior, I believe he should not have fallen for the provocations."
Nurmagomedov may face a "serious financial punishment" after the incident, he noted.
Earlier in the day, UFC President Dana White told reporters that Khabib may be fined or suspended, and if the Russian fighter is suspended for a long time, he will be stripped of his title. Nurmagomedov’s $2mln purse will be withheld until the investigation into the incident ends. He may also be stripped of earnings from the fight’s broadcast.