How can the UFC claim to condemn barbarity outside the ring, when the punishments and efforts to eradicate it are practically nowhere to be seen?
08 Octubre 2018 17:58
Those who staunchly defend the notion that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a display of athleticism, deserving of respect, were dealt a low blow this weekend. The violent scene which immediately followed Khabib Nurmagomedov’s ‘victory’ on Saturday night, has once again put the UFC and its president, Dana White, under scrutiny.
So what happened?
Immediately after UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov forced Conor McGregor to tap out on Saturday night in Las Vegas, an all-out brawl ensued. Nurmagomedov jumped out of the Octagon, launching himself into the crowd, and began attacking McGregor’s team-mate, Dillon Danis.
Back in the Octagon, a defeated McGregor was set upon by two members of Nurmagomedov's team, blindsided. Three members of Nurmagomedov's team who were allegedly involved in the incident were arrested, according to reports, however, as McGregor decided not to press charges, they were later released.
How the UFC deals with this will say a lot about the priorities of a sport which has a history of dividing opinion.
The sport has faced harsh criticism, with many arguing that not only does the company neglect its responsibilities when it comes to setting an example, but it goes out of its way to capitalise on the atrocities that too often make headlines, taking advantage of bad behavior to reap millions of dollars in profits.
‘I've been doing this for 18 years, and this is the biggest night ever, and I couldn't be more disappointed. You know me, I'm usually mad at everything. [Tonight] I'm not really mad, I'm just disappointed,’ UFC president Dana White told the press on Saturday.
While McGregor’s unruly behaviour has made countless headlines, the Irishman is yet to suffer serious consequences for his antics. In June, he was named one of Forbes’ highest-paid athletes. Just two months before, McGregor had been arrested after he was filmed throwing a steel dolly through the window of a bus carrying a group of UFC fighters, including Nurmagomedov, and staff. Several fighters were injured by broken glass, two of whom were hospitalised.
The UFC not only didn’t punish McGregor, who by pleading guilty to disorderly conduct avoided jail time, but went as far as to use the footage as promotional material to drum up interest for his upcoming fight and sell pay-per-view subscriptions.
How can the UFC claim to condemn barbarity outside the ring, when the punishments and efforts to eradicate it are practically nowhere to be seen? It is not just the physical abuse outside the ring that has caused outrage, McGregor has been called out for his derogatory remarks about the Dagestan native’s religion, family and homeland during the tense lead-up to Saturday’s fight. He has publicly called Nurmagomedov – who is a devout Muslim – a ‘backward cunt’ for refusing to accept a glass of whisky; addressed his father as a ‘quivering coward’ for associating with Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov; and referred to his Egyptian manager as a ‘terrorist snitch’.
At a news conference, Nurmagomedov commented on McGregor’s attitude, ‘This is not a trash-talking sport. This is a respect sport. I want to change this game. I don't want people to talk shit about opponents, talk shit about his father... you cannot talk about religion. You cannot talk about nation, you know? Guys, you cannot talk about this stuff and you know, for me this is very important.’
Whether or not the UFC is viewed as nothing more than a trash-talking sport is now in the hands of its president and how he decides to move forward. As for Nurmagomedov, it seems hypocritical to condemn the ‘trash-talking’ and demand respect after his actions on Saturday night.
Nurmagomedov has since apologised on social media as well as in a news conference where he admitted that he hadn't shown his 'best side'. McGregor on the other hand has tweeted, ‘Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch.’ A rematch? Seriously?