UFC 229 will only be remembered for one thing.
Following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s victory over Conor McGregor, all hell broke loose, with members of both teams, as well as the fighters themselves, involved in a nasty brawl.
Whoever you choose to blame, the fact remains that the brawl has put UFC under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. I’m not sure fans of the sport will be all that bothered about post-match brawls (they tune in to see fighting in the first place), but it’s not a very good look overall.
Now, as the dust settles, Artem Lobov, a Russian fighter who trains at SBG Ireland with McGregor, has put the blame at Nurmagomedov’s feet.
“Things were good between all of us — Conor, Khabib and myself,” Lobov told ESPN. “We saw Khabib often at shows, Reebok launches and what not. We were always very respectful to each other. I’d always shake his hand, ask how he is … it was all good.
“That all changed when, for someone reason I don’t know why, Khabib started calling Conor a chicken. Conor had never said anything bad towards Khabib. Khabib decided to start calling him chicken.
“It might not sound very serious to you guys, but just so you know, chicken is one of the most severe insults you can give a man in Russia. That is a person who gets raped in prison. Khabib knows that and everybody knows that.
“Khabib keeps going on with this, chicken here, chicken there, at every interview he’s calling Conor chicken … again Conor is respectful, not saying anything, we don’t really know where this is all coming from. Khabib was very respectful beforehand.
“The more he says chicken, he sees the media picking it up, he sees all the attention, and I guess he enjoys that. He wants the PR and he keeps going with it.
“This goes on for about a year. And then in an interview, I get asked about this. A Russian journalist asks me, ‘what can you say about Khabib calling Conor a chicken?’
“Now of course, knowing the severity of this insult, I had to respond in a hard way. And I think anybody would have done the same. If I didn’t do that, then what kind of friend am I?
“My response was very harsh, but I spoke facts. I talked about Khabib pulling out from all the fights … How can he call him a chicken when he’s the one pulling out. Conor never pulled out. It was a harsh response but given the situation I thought it was an appropriate response.”
I guess in some countries ‘chicken’ is a playground taunt, and in others, it is the ultimate sign of disrespect.
Not to pick sides, but Conor repeatedly called Khabib’s manager a terrorist, informant and a snitch.
Earlier this morning, Conor posted a lengthy statement on Instagram with this image:
Here’s the caption:
Thoughts on my last fight.
Round 1. I believe from a sport standpoint, round 1 was his. Top position against the fence. Zero position advancement or damage inflicted. But top position.
From a fight standpoint the first round is mine.
Actual shots landed and a willingness to engage. Straight left early. Knee to the head on the low shot. Elbows in any and all tie up scenarios. Opponent just holding the legs against the fence for almost the entire round.
Round 2 he is running away around the cage before being blessed with a right hand that changed the course of the round, and the fight.
It was a nice shot.
After the shot I bounced back up to engage instantly, but again he dipped under to disengage. That is the sport and it was a smart move that led to a dominant round, so no issue. Well played.
If I stay switched on and give his stand up even a little more respect, that right hand never gets close and we are talking completely different now.
I gave his upright fighting no respect in preparation. No specific stand up spars whatsoever.
Attacking grapplers/wrestlers only.
That won’t happen again.
I also gave my attacking grappling no respect. To defense minded.
Listen to nobody but yourself on your skill set.
You are the master of your own universe.
I am the master of this.
I must take my own advice.
Round 3. After the worst round of my fighting career, I come back and win this round. Again walking forward, walking him down, and willing to engage.
Round 4. My recovery was not where it could have been here.
That is my fault.
Although winning the early exchanges in 4, he dips under again and I end up in a bad position with over 3 on the clock. I work to regain position and end up upright, with my back to the fence.
A stable position.
Here however, I made a critical error of abandoning my over hook at this crucial time, exposing the back, and I end up beaten fair and square.
What can I say?
It was a great fight and it was my pleasure.
I will be back with my confidence high.
If it is not the rematch right away, no problem.
I will face the next in line.
It’s all me always, anyway.
See you soon my fighting fans I love you all ❤
Round Five – oh wait, there was no round five, unless you count the post-bout melee.
I reckon a rematch between Conor and Khabib would make for good viewing, but then who really learns their lesson?
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