Multiple videos, including one captured by MMA Fighting, showed Chimaev and Nurmagomedov shaking hands and speaking beside the octagon at Etihad Arena. But that quickly changed when Chimaev shoved Nurmagomedov, who’d competed and won earlier in the night, and a melee nearly broke out. Security guards rushed to keep the fighters separated before order was restored.
UFC President Dana White was aware of the incident, though he didn’t know any details about why the seemingly peaceful interaction turned volatile.
“What do I even say about that?” White said about the altercation. “It happens, especially with [Khamzat]. It happens.”
White said he wasn’t even aware that Chimaev was going to be in attendance at UFC 280, which also explained his location when the main event ended. While fighters typically have a section of cageside seats made available to them for the events, White said Chimaev was sitting directly behind him as a guest of the Abu Dhabi government.
“He was sitting on our side,” White explained. “I didn’t even know Khamzat was coming tonight. He was invited here by Abu Dhabi. So the seats behind me here in Abu Dhabi are owned by Abu Dhabi.”
Khamzat Chimaev and Abubakar Nurmagomedov went from 0-100 wtf pic.twitter.com/Qmbt5zx4xs— Out Of Context MMA (@oocmma) October 22, 2022
Thanks to the close proximity to the cage, Chimaev wound up speaking to Nurmagomedov, who was there supporting Islam Makhachev as the lightweight veteran became champion with a second-round submission of Charles Oliveira.
Chimaev and Nurmagomedov previously have exchanged words over social media; Abubakar shared a message sent to Chimaev on Instagram after the relationship between them soured. It’s unclear if that’s what led to the altercation, but obviously things turned ugly between them on Saturday.
For his part, Makhachev had no idea that an altercation had occurred between his team and Chimaev following his title fight win on Saturday. Neither Chimaev or Nurmagomedov have commented on the situation in the aftermath of UFC 280.
You can watch Dana White’s full interview at the UFC 280 press conference below.