Khabib issues bizarre 'joke' threat to Dana White over getting his championship belt
In the run-up to UFC 229, where Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor would duke it out for the lightweight title, the Russian fighter kept his cool for the most part. While McGregor had plenty of trash talk to throw Khabib's way, he didn't get a rise from him, just a few choice words - promising to take him down once they actually stepped into the octagon. And that was exactly what he did.
On the night of the big fight, McGregor was taken out with a chokehold in the fourth round, leaving Khabib as the victor, keeping his title and remaining undefeated in MMA 27-0. However, immediately after it became apparent that Nurmagomedov had come out on top that evening in Las Vegas, his temper got to the better of him. Surprising everyone, Khabib leapt over and into the crowd in an attempt to attack Dillon Dalis.
Dalis, a close friend and training partner of McGregor, had apparently been taunting Khabib throughout the build-up to the fight, and a gesture he made at the end of the fight was the straw that broke the camel's back. In addition to this, three men jumped into the octagon to attack McGregor, and were later arrested - although the Irish fighter chose not to press charges.
After what happened, UFC President Dana White apparently told Khabib that he couldn't award him the belt considering what just went down in the arena. "If I put this belt on you here, people are gonna lose their s*** and start throwing stuff into the Octagon," he told him. "Someone else is gonna get hurt."
"I knew that was going to happen," White late explained. "I knew if we put the belt on him in the Octagon they’d be throwing whatever into the Octagon."
Following the event, Khabib's purse (a reported $2 million) has been held back as the Nevada State Athletic Commission investigates what happened that evening. Following the incident, Khabib publicly apologised and explained the reasoning behind his actions:
"I want to say sorry to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. This is not my best side.
"He talked about my religion, my country, my father. He came to Brooklyn, he broke my bus and nearly killed two people. So why do people still talk about me jumping over the cage? I have shown respect.
"I told you guys: his whole team and him, they are tap machines. Today he tapped. Undisputed and undefeated.
"This is a respectful sport. This is not a trash-talking sport. I want to change this game. You cannot talk about religions and nations. This for me is very important. Thank you for waiting for me. I know my father is gonna smash me when I go home. Nevada: sorry. Vegas: sorry."
Despite the fact that the air seems to have cleared somewhat, and McGregor is keen to jump right into a rematch, Nurmagomedov shared an Instagram that may show some tension remains.
Tagging in Dana White, he said "you lucky that you give my belt, or I would smash your car, I know your parking location".
Whether this is a threat or a deadpan joke is unclear, but it seems that Khabib isn't too happy about his money being withheld.