The UFC 229 main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor was one of the most anticipated fights in the history of mixed martial arts. The rivalry between the two fighters was intense and personal, fueled by a series of insults, provocations, and incidents that escalated the tension to a boiling point.
The feud started in 2016, when McGregor became the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously after defeating Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight belt. Nurmagomedov, who was undefeated and had been waiting for a title shot for a long time, challenged McGregor to defend his belt against him. However, McGregor took a hiatus from MMA and pursued a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017, which he lost by TKO.
In 2018, McGregor was stripped of his lightweight title due to inactivity, and Nurmagomedov won the vacant belt by defeating Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. A few days before that event, McGregor and his entourage attacked a bus carrying Nurmagomedov and other fighters at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. McGregor threw a dolly at the bus window, injuring several people and causing chaos. He was arrested and charged with assault and criminal mischief, but later reached a plea deal that avoided jail time.
The UFC capitalized on the bad blood between Nurmagomedov and McGregor and booked them to fight at UFC 229 on October 6, 2018 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight was expected to be a clash of styles, as Nurmagomedov was a dominant wrestler and grappler, while McGregor was a lethal striker and knockout artist. The fight also had political and cultural implications, as Nurmagomedov represented his native Dagestan and his Muslim faith, while McGregor represented his native Ireland and his outspoken personality.
The fight lived up to the hype, as both fighters showed their skills and will in a thrilling contest. The first round saw Nurmagomedov take down McGregor and control him on the ground, landing some punches and elbows. McGregor defended well and avoided any serious damage, but he clearly lost the round.
The second round was more dramatic, as Nurmagomedov surprised McGregor with a right hand that dropped him to the canvas. Nurmagomedov followed up with more strikes and another takedown, where he unleashed a vicious ground-and-pound assault that left McGregor bloodied and battered. McGregor survived the round, but he was in deep trouble.
The third round was the best for McGregor, as he managed to keep the fight standing and land some punches and kicks on Nurmagomedov. He also stuffed a takedown attempt and taunted Nurmagomedov with his words and gestures. Nurmagomedov seemed to slow down a bit, but he still landed some counters and jabs.
The fourth round was the decisive one, as Nurmagomedov secured another takedown and transitioned to a mount position. He then locked in a neck crank that forced McGregor to tap out at 3:03 of the round. Nurmagomedov retained his lightweight title and improved his record to 27-0.
The fight was over, but the drama was not. Nurmagomedov jumped over the cage and attacked Dillon Danis, one of McGregor’s teammates who had been trash-talking him throughout the fight. A brawl ensued between both camps, with punches thrown and security intervening. McGregor also got involved in the melee, as he was confronted by some of Nurmagomedov’s teammates who had entered the cage. The situation was eventually contained, but not before tarnishing the image of the sport.
Nurmagomedov apologized for his actions at the post-fight press conference, but he also criticized McGregor for his insults and disrespect. He said that he wanted to teach him a lesson and that this was more than just a fight. He also questioned why no one condemned McGregor for his bus attack.
McGregor did not attend the press conference, but he tweeted that he was looking forward to a rematch. He also praised Nurmagomedov for his performance and said that it was a good fight.
Both fighters were suspended and fined by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for their roles in the brawl. Nurmagomedov received a nine-month suspension and a $500,000 fine, while McGregor received a six-month suspension and a $50,000 fine.
The fight was a huge success commercially, as it broke several records for the UFC. It sold 2.4 million pay-per-view buys in North America, making it the most purchased MMA event of all time. It also generated $17.2 million in gate revenue from 20,034 attendees, making it the second highest-grossing MMA event in history.
The fight was also a critical success, as it received widespread acclaim from fans and media for its entertainment value and drama. It was nominated for the 2019 World MMA Awards for Fight of the Year, but it lost to Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum.
The fight was a classic UFC fight that showcased the best and the worst of the sport. It was a clash of champions, a clash of styles, and a clash of cultures. It was a fight that will be remembered for years to come.