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UFC 229 Ends in Chaos
Melee outside the cage rivals UFC 229 bouts
Anticipation has been building for weeks over UFC 229 and the bout between Connor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. MMA fans were certainly treated to an exceptional card last night. It was quite possibly one of the best nights of combat in UFC history.
Leading up to McGregor and Khabib we experienced the usual trash talk and antics that create the hype and emotional build up for a match between fighters of this caliber. We expect all of this as it has become part of the sport, for better of for worse. But UFC 229 viewers got much more than they bargained for last night at the end of the bout.
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The first two rounds between McGregor and Nurmagomedov were controlled by Khabib’s superior wrestling and top pressure. McGregor did not have an answer for Khabib’s grappling, and his durability was surely tested as he took some punishing blows from Nurmagomedov during the closing moments of the second round.
McGregor appeared to be a bit rejuvenated during the third, stuffing some early takedown attempts, and connecting a little better on the feet. But the Irishman could not put anything significant together to turn the tide of the fight.
The fourth and final round of the contest resembled the early rounds of the fight with Nurmagomedov securing the take down early. After a brief stint of grappling Nurmagomedov found his way to McGregor’s back and was able to easily sink in the rear naked choke, forcing the tap from McGregor. End of story, right?
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Unfortunately, the most talked about moments from last evening will have nothing to do with the fights themselves. The conversations about this contest will be overshadowed by the events that transpired immediately following the main event.
After securing the victory Nurmagomedov decided to jump over the cage and attack Dillon Danis, McGregor’s BJJ coach. Apparently Danis was taunting Nurmagomedov from his ringside seat. A member of Nurmagomedov’s camp also made his way into the ring and landed a pretty solid right hand to McGregor while his back was turned.
This was an unfortunate end to an amazing evening.
McGregor is known for his ability to get under the skin of his opponents. He has taken the pre-fight trash talk game to a new level in MMA. His trash talk was not limited to fighting ability. He insulted Nurmagomedov’s father, country, religion, and even insinuated terrorist ties. Nurmagomedov was obviously not comfortable being in the cross hairs of McGregor’s insulting commentary.
What’s the answer here? Surely, we can’t condone this kind of behavior amongst the champions of combat sports. A poor example was set last night, and that can’t be taken away. Have the insults and bitter rivalries reached a point where they no longer fuel the excitement of the bouts, but tarnish the integrity of the sport? MMA has come a long way, and it’s been a tough road for the pioneers that have fought to gain acceptance for the sport over a broader audience. Moments like these don’t help in the fight to further the sport.
There’s already talk of a rematch, and a possible stripping of the belt from Nurmagomedov. As things unfold over the next few days, I’m sure well get more insight into the events of last evening. But no matter what transpires, this is surely, at the very least, a catalyst for changing the conversation around the limits of trash talk, ringside security, and the acceptable behavior of competitors at the highest levels.