Putin backs champ Nur­magome­dov

Shanghai Daily - - SPORTS - UFC (AFP)

RUS­SIAN Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin met mixed mar­tial arts cham­pion Khabib Nur­magome­dov yes­ter­day, say­ing that he did not de­serve harsh pun­ish­ment for a re­cent post-fight brawl.

The Rus­sian strong­man ap­peared on state tele­vi­sion meet­ing the fighter, who de­fended his Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship light­weight ti­tle against Conor McGre­gor on Satur­day, along with his fa­ther.

Nur­magome­dov faces a pos­si­ble sus­pen­sion over the post-fight fra­cas and has not re­ceived his prize money, though he will keep his ti­tle.

De­spite the con­tro­versy, he has re­ceived a hero’s wel­come in Rus­sia and blasted his op­po­nent as a “dimwit.”

Putin gave the fighter a mild lecture over his be­hav­ior, but stressed that any Rus­sian will re­spond force­fully to an at­tack from the out­side.

“I will ask your dad not to pun­ish you harshly,” the pres­i­dent told the 30year-old fighter from the mainly Mus­lim Dages­tan re­gion, adding that “you won worthily and con­vinc­ingly.”

Putin said that like other Rus­sians he had “closely fol­lowed” the fight in Las Ve­gas and “got emo­tion­ally in­volved.”

Af­ter the fight, Nur­magome­dov jumped over the fence and tried to at- tack his op­po­nent’s train­ing part­ner. The crowd was so hos­tile that the UFC pres­i­dent Dana White did not present the Rus­sian with his belt.

Nur­magome­dov ex­pressed no re­morse, telling Putin he re­sponded to “dis­re­spect” and “provo­ca­tions” from his op­po­nent and that he hoped to be vin­di­cated.

Putin told him that a Rus­sian must re­strain him­self while at home in his own coun­try, which he called “a big fam­ily, but when at­tacked from the out­side, may re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately.”

“In a fam­ily any­thing can hap­pen, (but) we never al­low our­selves to go be­yond cer­tain lim­its,” the Rus­sian Pres­i­dent said. “But if they at­tack us from the out­side, of course, not just you — all of us can jump in such a way, they won’t know what hit them. But it’s bet­ter not to take things so far.”

UFC light­weight cham­pion Khabib Nur­magome­dov speaks with fans af­ter ar­riv­ing at the Anzhi-arena sta­dium in Makhachkala on Mon­day. — AFP

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