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Dana White: Khabib Nurmagomedov made ‘a really bad decision in the heat of the moment’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC president Dana White can understand why Khabib Nurmagomedov held a deep grudge against Conor McGregor and his team.

McGregor, after all, had made the trash talk leading up to their UFC 229 main-event showdown deeply personal, going so far as to call Nurmagomedov’s father a coward.

“There’s no doubt he’s justified for being upset and everything else,” White said.

But as far as White is concerned, Nurmagomedov proved his point when he forced McGregor to tap in the fourth round of their UFC lightweight title bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Appearing on the ESPN show “First Take” on Monday, White said Nurmagomedov won the battle by winning the fight, and there was no need to then go from there and instigate the post-fight brawl which made worldwide headlines.

“You just beat the biggest superstar in all of sports, let alone our sport,” White said. “Just beat him in front of the whole world. The whole world was watching, and it really wasn’t about him and Conor at that moment.”

As the end result of the melee, instead of the world talking about Nurmagomedov’s superlative skill set and fighting still, he’s had his seven-figure fight purse withheld by the Nevada Athletic Commission, and potentially faces heavy fines and/or a suspension after the NAC concludes its investigation of the incident.

White believes Nurmagomedov could have made his point more effectively by taking the high road and simply basking in the glory of the victory, forcing McGregor to watch as the champion had his belt placed around his waist. This only underscores why White feels Nurmagomedov made the wrong call.

“The only one that is going to get hurt of this is Khabib,” White said. “Now he’s got to go before the Nevada State Athletic Commission [sic], they keep his purse, all the things that were said, you won. You won the fight. You had the opportunity to stand up there, get the belt put on you in front of the whole world. Now, you’re going to stand in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission [sic]. It’s just a really bad decision in the heat of the moment.”

White also expressed surprise Nurmagomedov was able to escape the cage as quickly as he did, noting security measures were in place in case of any post-fight incidents. But he praised the security team for getting a handle on things and keep the situation from escalating further.

“We knew some things could happen after the fight, so we had some thing in place to make sure that that didn’t happen,” White said. “And then, I didn’t see Khabib jumping over the cage like that. He got over that thing quick and was going after one of Conor’s cornermen, who was still talking, saying stuff to him after the fight, so, first of all, the crew that we had in place did a good job containing this thing so it didn’t get out of control, but yeah, not our best moment.”

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