Khabib Nurmagomedov threatens to leave UFC after UFC 229 melee if teammate Zubaira Tukhugov is fired
Khabib Nurmagomedov may have just thrown down the gauntlet in the post-UFC 229 controversy.
Nurmagomedov today posted on his Instagram feed a message to the UFC brass. His key point: If the UFC fires his teammates, chiefly Zubaira Tukhugov, for their roles in the post-fight melee, Nurmagomedov is prepared to go with them.
“If you think that I’ll keep silent then you are mistaken,” Nurmagomedov wrote in his post. “If you decide to fire him, you should know that you’ll lose me too. We never give up on our brothers in Russia and I will go to the end for my Brother. If you still decide to fire him, don’t forget to send me my broken contract, otherwise I’ll break it myself.”
Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) submitted Conor McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) in the fourth round of the UFC 229 main event to retain the lightweight title this past Saturday. After the fight was over, he went over the fence and into the crowd to go after one of McGregor’s teammates, Dillon Danis. While that was happening outside the cage, another melee was happening inside the cage when some of Nurmagomedov’s teammates, including Tukhugov, came over the fence and got into it with McGregor.
Video footage from all kinds of angles show McGregor taking a swing on the fence, but then getting hit from behind moments later. UFC President Dana White said he was “disgusted and sick” over the incident, the Nevada State Athletic Commission started an immediate investigation, and also withheld Nurmagomedov’s $2 million disclosed payday. McGregor’s pay was not withheld. UFC 229 reportedly broke the promotion’s pay-per-view buys record with estimates of around 2.4 million.
Blame has been all over the map for the post-fight brawl. Some say McGregor should be faulted for his extreme trash talk in the buildup to the fight. Some say Danis at cageside insulted Nurmagomedov’s Islamic faith, prompting him to come over the fence in the first place. (Danis late Wednesday denied those claims in a statement.)
And no one has forgotten when the entire beef started back in April, when McGregor arrived in Brooklyn with a crew of people and attacked a bus filled with fighters and teams at UFC 223 – including Nurmagomedov and his team. McGregor threw a metal hand cart into a bus window, and the shattered glass injured two fighters and led to the cancellation of two UFC 223 fights. McGregor was arrested, jailed and eventually pleaded guilty to lesser charges that kept him from further jail time. McGregor’s bus attack was a response to Nurmagomedov allegedly slapping another of McGregor’s teammates, Artem Lobov, in an incident the day before.
But the biggest salvo in this dispute yet perhaps just landed from Nurmagomedov, given he’s the lightweight champion and essentially threatened to quit the organization in defense of not just Tukhugov, but, he said, the honor of his people and culture.
Here is the full Nurmagomedov statement from Instagram from his English translation. He also posted a version in Russian:
I would like to address @ufc. Why didn’t you fire anyone when their team attacked the bus and injured a couple of people? They could have killed someone there, why no one says anything about insulting my homeland, religion, nation, family?
Why do you have to punish my team, when both teams fought. If you say that I started it, then I do not agree, I finished what he had started.
In any case, punish me, @zubairatukhugov has nothing to do with that. If you think that I’ll keep silent then you are mistaken. You canceled Zubaira’s fight and you want to dismiss him just because he hit Conor. But don’t forget that it was Conor who had hit my another Brother FIRST, just check the video.
if you decide to fire him, you should know that you’ll lose me too. We never give up on our brothers in Russia and I will go to the end for my Brother. If you still decide to fire him, don’t forget to send me my broken contract, otherwise I’ll break it myself.
And one more thing, you can keep my money that you are withholding. You are pretty busy with that, I hope it won’t get stuck in your throat. We have defended our honor and this is the most important thing. We intend to go to the end.
UFC 229 took place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.