On October 6th 2018, the UFC Lightweight Championship took place in Las Vegas with Conor McGregor pitted against Khabib Nurmagomedov. McGregor had not fought since August of the previous year, while Nurmagomedov was 27-0. It was clear that Nurmagomedov became aggravated when, before the fight, McGregor began making remarks concerning the Russian fighter’s family, religion, and nationality.
Was being in the ring together for four rounds not long enough to pound on each other? The Russian fighter was not satisfied with his victory. He was convinced McGregor did not get what he deserved after saying those harsh things. Therefore, after jumping the ring and attacking McGregor on his way out of the arena, he got himself suspended and one million dollars of his prize money will be withheld until a settlement is reached. It is one thing to fight in the ring when that is the point of the sport, but taking it outside of the match is completely unnecessary. But, there is a prevalence of interpersonal violence in the sport context.
For these elite athletes their sport is much more than just a game, it is a lifestyle. Things said before, during and after a match can cause unwarranted uproars in athletes and spectators, to an intense degree. The things Conor McGregor was saying before the match were more than just trash talk to Khabib. This allowed Khabib to fight for more than just himself, he was fighting for his family, his culture, and his nation.
As for Nurmagomedov’s punishment, is that really going to be effective enough? To take his money away is one thing, but he achieved his goal of winning, and is most likely very satisfied with himself. Does not feeling respected justify his actions? To him, because of all the disrespect he was receiving, his actions were justified. In an interview later that week Khabib said,
“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”.
It’s just like anything in life, when you stand up for something you believe in, that is what you do, and you know the consequences are going to come, but you accept them and move on.
Is the answer going to be sending these two athletes back into the ring?