The fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov was intensely personal, with shock after shock both inside and outside of the Octagon.
Nurmagomedov is well known for talking to his opponents during fights, to crush their confidence and gain the upper hand.
However, it was McGregor’s words which sparked interest after UFC 229, with UFC fans noticing the Irishman whispering something during the third round of the October 6 fight.
This was the only winning round for McGregor, and the exchange between the two fighters was telling.
Prior to the fight, McGregor made a nod to Nurmagomedov’s psychological tactic; promising fans he would be the one to control the dialogue:
I am going to maul him and then let’s see who’s doing the talking, let’s see who’s having a conversation in there.
As reported by The Mirror, Nurmagomedov referenced this promise after flooring The Notorious during the second round; ominously stating, ‘Let’s talk now’.
— Jimmie Rivera (@JimmieRivera135) October 7, 2018
What an awful ending to what should have been a great night. Khabib Nurmagomedov silenced the doubters, moved to 27-0 and tapped out Conor McGregor.
Now all we're going to remember is the chaos and really stupid decisions made after it was over. Terrible. #UFC229
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 7, 2018
That was INSANE. @TeamKhabib was COMPLETELY out of line. He fought well and won, but it was a loss in my book. His actions after were a disgrace. @TheNotoriousMMA (a great fighter) lost and was incredibly respectful. Khabib’s friend should 100% be banned. #KHABIBvsMcGregor
— Ariel Winter (@arielwinter1) October 7, 2018
— RKS (@kchelvi575) October 8, 2018
In footage shared on Reddit, McGregor can be heard whispering, ‘It’s only business’, with Nurmagomedov responding ‘Guess so’.
It is widely believed McGregor was referring to the personal comments he had made prior to the fight which had apparently left Nurmagomedov completely enraged.
One Redditor commented:
Honestly this is all Conor’s fault. This is the game he wanted to play.
If he was respectful the whole time before the fight none of the brawl or anything would have happened.
He doesn’t even need the money, why bother hyping the fight at all, just say ‘it will be a great fight, I’ve trained really hard and I can’t wait to try and give him his first loss’. Conor is already famous, why make everything worse by insulting Khabib over and over again.
Conor’s fault but he won’t get punished for it AGAIN.
LMAO. That’s the sound of a man who knows his opponent is on the war path and he needs to play damage control before the bombs reach home.
@ufc @TeamKhabib @danawhite shouldn’t be stripped of his title!!!! PERIOD maybe a fine or something but suspension and stripping the man of his title is nonsense and makes @danawhite look like he favors @TheNotoriousMMA after all of the events leading up to this fight!! #befair
— Jermaine Gooden (@JGoodtheMODEL) October 8, 2018
Mr McGregor, sir…you were beaten good and proper by #KhabibNurmagomedov , sir. Good luck for the rematch. And sir, try restraint and humility training. Might serve you well.
— bakkwabeelee (@muipo1) October 8, 2018
Many UFC fans believe McGregor had gone too far with his pre-fight trash talk, in an apparent bid to hype the event.
Nurmagomedov took the insults about his family, religion and homeland to heart; sparking a fiery post-fight altercation.
Moments after securing his victory, Nurmagomedov jumped from the Octagon, and allegedly attacked members of McGregor’s team while one of his own team members laid into McGregor.
As reported by The Independent, Nurmagomedov has since given the following apology:
I want to say sorry to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. This is not my best side.
He talked about my religion, my country, my father. He came to Brooklyn, he broke my bus and nearly killed two people. So why do people still talk about me jumping over the cage? I have shown respect.
I told you guys: his whole team and him, they are tap machines. Today he tapped. Undisputed and undefeated.
This is a respectful sport. This is not a trash-talking sport. I want to change this game. You cannot talk about religions and nations. This for me is very important. Thank you for waiting for me. I know my father is gonna smash me when I go home. Nevada: sorry. Vegas: sorry.
He took a picture with Putin. But Putin just called me and told me he is proud of me. And he said congratulations.
Following his defeat, McGregor Instagrammed a pic of himself in the Octagon captioned ‘I’ll be back’, suggesting he hasn’t yet been broken by Nurmagomedov’s mind games.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.