Brett OkamotoESPN Staff WriterClose
- MMA columnist for ESPN.com
- Analyst for “MMA Live”
- Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun
LAS VEGAS — The Nevada State Athletic Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to suspend UFC stars Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor for their respective roles in a postfight melee at UFC 229 in October.
The commission suspended 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 on 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.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Ali Abdelaziz, Nurmagomedov’s manager, said of the fines. “Khabib gets $500K and Conor gets $50K? I think it’s bulls—.”
Nurmagomedov posted his reaction to the penalties on Twitter.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) January 29, 2019
The NSAC also penalized several of the fighters’ cornermen and teammates.
Nurmagomedov’s cousin, PFL lightweight Abubakar Nurmagomedov, and teammate Zubaira Tukhugov each received a one-year suspension and $25,000 fine. Dillon Danis, a McGregor teammate and professional fighter for Bellator MMA, also is facing punishment. His case will be resolved at a later date.
“That’s fair. They’ll both get six months,” Abdelaziz said of the suspensions for Khabib Nurmagomedov and McGregor. “But for his teammates, it’s too much.”
The suspensions also will be upheld outside Nevada, as all commissioners — including the UFC — will respect the decision of the NSAC.
Abdelaziz said Nurmagomedov would pay approximately $750,000 to cover the fines for himself, his two teammates and lawyers’ fees
The melee occurred immediately after Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round of their lightweight championship fight at UFC 229 inside T-Mobile Arena. Nurmagomedov, of Dagestan, leaped out of the Octagon and jumped into McGregor’s corner to confront Danis.
McGregor was restrained from jumping out of the Octagon, but traded punches with Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Tukhugov, who had entered the cage. The commission and Las Vegas police eventually diffused the situation. No serious injuries or arrests were reported.
The Nevada commission launched a formal investigation into the matter after the event, which delayed the sanctioning process. All of the punishments that were voted on Tuesday were negotiated ahead of time between the Nevada attorney general’s office and the respective parties.
UFC 229 proved to be the highest-selling pay-per-view in company history, much of which was attributed to the bad blood between Nurmagomedov and McGregor. In April 2018, five months before they fought, McGregor attacked a bus Nurmagomedov was riding in during a fight week in Brooklyn.
McGregor, of Dublin, has already stated he is “looking forward to the rematch” with Nurmagomedov, although the UFC has not indicated whether that will be the next contest for either fighter. Earlier this month, McGregor acknowledged a potential matchup against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone on social media.
If there were to be a rematch, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has listed Khabib Nurmagomedov (-300) as a hypothetical favorite over McGregor (+240).
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani and Ben Fawkes contributed to this report.