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Dana White ‘surprised’ by Khabib Nurmagomedov punishment, calls it a ‘little harsh’

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Dana White believes that the Nevada Athletic Commission were a little heavy handed when it came to fining Khabib Nurmagomedov for his involvement in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl.

On Tuesday’s meeting of the NAC, a five-member committee voted in favor of a settlement agreement that will see Nurmagomedov receive a nine-month suspension and a $500,000 fine for his involvement in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl. The suspension can be reduced by up to three months pending Nurmagomedov’s participation in an anti-bullying public service announcement that must be approved by the NAC.

Speaking on SportsCenter on Tuesday night, White described Nurmagomedov’s settlement as “harsh”.

“I was obviously surprised how much they put on Khabib,” said White. “It was a half-million dollars and six months if he does some PSAs. They had the whole thing contained in seconds. It was a little harsh in my opinion. It is what it is.”

Members of the NAC panel at Tuesday’s hearing highlighted a need to police the language used by fighters in the lead-up to fights, but White feels that pre-fight trash talk is par for the course when you look at the history of combat sports.

“It’s a fight. At the end of the day, it’s a fight,” he said. “Sometimes you come across people that don’t like each other and there’s a lot of bad blood. That was in the case in this fight. That’s what we do it’s the fight business. These guys are talking about fighters saying mean things to each other and all this other stuff. If you break it down and you go back to when Ali fought Frazier, and you look at the times when it happened, the stuff he said about Frazier and to Frazier was horrible. Horrible things you didn’t say to somebody else back then.”

White also gave his thoughts on Jon Jones who was granted a one-fight license to compete on March 2 against Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235 at the same hearing. Jones will be required to be drug tested a minimum of twice a month until UFC 235, and must continue comply with a similarly rigorous testing schedule throughout all of 2019 if he wishes to fight in Nevada again.

“I’m rooting for the guy. I hope he does it. He’s one of the best ever maybe the greatest ever. Hopefully, he’ll keep his personal life together and pass these tests and continue to cement his legacy in the sport,” said White.

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