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With his ultimatum to the UFC, Khabib Nurmagomedov has a point – even if it’s not the one that will likely matter most

MMAJunkie logo MMAJunkie 11/10/2018 Ben Fowlkes

© VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov seems to have finished with the faux-apology phase of his reaction to the post-fight melee at UFC 229. Now he's on to mitigating the consequences - and not just for himself.

It seems that Nurmagomedov heard UFC President Dana White's claim that any fighters involved in attacking Conor McGregor in the octagon after Saturday's main event "will never fight here."

To Nurmagomedov's ears - and a lot of other people's, as well - that sounded like UFC featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov, a teammate of Nurmagomedov's, may be on his way to the banned list. A quick review of the video shows a guy who looks an awful lot like him jumping into the cage shortly after Nurmagomedov had jumped out, and it sure looked like it was Tukhugov who took a swipe at McGregor in the ensuing fracas.

Still, Nurmagomedov sees no reason for him to be fired from the UFC as a result, and he's willing to put his own head on the chopping block to protect Tukhugov's if he needs to.

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"(I)f you decide to fire him, you should know that you'll lose me too," Nurmagomedov wrote on Instagram. "We never give up on our brothers in Russia and I will go to the end for my Brother. If you still decide to fire him, don't forget to send me my broken contract, otherwise I'll break it myself."

So far you could maybe write the whole thing off as bluster. He also told the UFC it could "keep my money that you are withholding," which a) it's the Nevada State Athletic Commission doing that, and b) no one ever means it when they tell you that they don't care about receiving their millions of dollars.

Also, no matter how mad he might be if Tukhugov is fired, it's not like Nurmagomedov can just resign as UFC champion if he doesn't like how he's being treated - ask Randy Couture.

But as part of his social media rant, Nurmagomedov also made a pretty solid point: Why didn't the UFC fire anyone over McGregor's bus attack in April?

View this post on Instagram

I would like to address @ufc Why didn't you fire anyone when their team attacked the bus and injured a couple of people? They could have killed someone there, why no one says anything about insulting my homeland, religion, nation, family? Why do you have to punish my team, when both teams fought. If you say that I started it, then I do not agree, I finished what he had started. In any case, punish me, @zubairatukhugov has nothing to do with that. If you think that I’ll keep silent then you are mistaken. You canceled Zubaira’s fight and you want to dismiss him just because he hit Conor. But don’t forget that it was Conor who had hit my another Brother FIRST, just check the video. if you decide to fire him, you should know that you’ll lose me too. We never give up on our brothers in Russia and I will go to the end for my Brother. If you still decide to fire him, don’t forget to send me my broken contract, otherwise I'll break it myself. And one more thing, you can keep my money that you are withholding. You are pretty busy with that, I hope it won’t get stuck in your throat. We have defended our honor and this is the most important thing. We intend to go to the end. #Brothers

A post shared by Khabib Nurmagomedov (@khabib_nurmagomedov) on

If one fighter attacking another outside the parameters of a professional fight is cause for a ban, how did McGregor manage to throw a hand truck into a bus full of UFC fighters, injuring some of them, with his teammate and UFC featherweight Artem Lobov along for the ride, and yet no one lost their jobs over it?

We mostly know the answers to these questions. UFC executives like White made a lot of angry noises over McGregor's bus incident, but ultimately the promotion took zero action on it. That's because the company's only real interest was in getting McGregor back in the cage so it could get back to making tons of money off him.

And it did. UFC 229 was, by all early indications, a huge success. It was even helped along by ads showing McGregor in full freakout mode, launching what White described as a "disgusting" attack on a bunch of fellow fighters who were simply caught in the crossfire.

Khabib Nurmagomedov, right, is held back by referee Herb Dean after fighting Conor McGregor, bottom, during a lightweight title mixed martial arts bout at UFC 229 in Las Vegas, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Nurmagomedov won the fight by submission during the fourth round to retain the title. © (AP Photo/John Locher) Khabib Nurmagomedov, right, is held back by referee Herb Dean after fighting Conor McGregor, bottom, during a lightweight title mixed martial arts bout at UFC 229 in Las Vegas, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Nurmagomedov won the fight by submission during the fourth round to retain the title.

So how can you do nothing about McGregor's misbehavior, then take such an opposite stance when it's Nurmagomedov and his team causing all the trouble? How are we supposed to interpret it as anything but an egregiously uneven application of justice, with consequences determined not by what you do but by how much you're worth to the UFC?

Not that that would be anything new, mind you. Other fighters have already been banned from the UFC for less than what both McGregor and Nurmagomedov have done. Then again, those other fighters didn't have a McGregor or a Nurmagomedov speaking up on their behalf, which is what might actually make a difference in this case.

Now the UFC has a tough choice to make. White can stick to his vow to make sure no one who jumped in that cage ever fights for the UFC again, or he can back down and placate his lightweight champ, who he's probably going to need in the very near future.

Both decisions come with consequences - even the decision to do nothing at all. If you don't believe that, just look back at how we ended up here.

NOW READ:

Khabib Nurmagomedov threatens to leave UFC after UFC 229 melee if teammate Zubaira Tukhugov is fired (MMA Junkie)

New details reveal ‘unnecessarily chaotic’ moments for Conor McGregor minutes before UFC defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov (Independent.ie)

Watch: Putin meets with Khabib and father to celebrate UFC 229 win (Extra.ie)

Everything that happened after the fight was great for McGregor (Deadspin)

For complete coverage of UFC 229, check out the UFC Events section of the site.


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