UFC take out­rage all the way to the bank

The Southland Times - - Sport - Emma Keel­ing

Pupils were di­lated and palms were sweaty in an­tic­i­pa­tion. Would there be a knock­out? Maybe a bro­ken bone that, re­fresh­ingly, wasn’t in the nose this time? Surely there would be blood spilt? But wait, what’s this?! The fight didn’t match the hype?! Shock, hor­ror. Thank good­ness there was a brawl to cheer us all up.

Don’t panic. I’m not go­ing to climb onto the moral high-ground about the Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship 229, yet. For a start I can’t be­cause I’m still too stunned by the lack of cul­pa­bil­ity shown by the UFC of­fi­cials who seem to have their in­tegrity jammed in their wal­let be­hind a large wad of bills.

It was only round four when, with barely enough blood spilt to war­rant a cel­e­bra­tory trip to the beer fridge, it was all over. Juiced up on days of hype, the fight be­tween chal­lenger Conor McGre­gor and light­weight cham­pion Khabib Nur­magome­dov went into a sugar coma.

The face of the sport, McGre­gor, went very red be­cause he was choked into sub­mis­sion while the cham­pion, with hype to burn, launched him­self out of the cage at his op­po­nent’s cor­ner­men. Not want­ing to miss out Conor and Khabib’s crew also went at it in the cage. It was Game of Thrones with­out dragons. Good old tribal war­fare en­ter­tain­ment for all the fam­ily.

In the lead-up to the fight, McGre­gor had thrown around some trash talk that would’ve got a round of ap­plause from the far right. UFC pres­i­dent Dana White said this was ‘‘part of the game’’, which is why he wasn’t go­ing to tell any­body what they could and couldn’t say. Fair enough. This is sport where racism and vi­o­lence are part and par­cel of be­ing an ath­lete. Noth­ing to see here, do get on with it.

Com­men­ta­tors fret­ted over the dis­grace­ful scenes and how it would hurt the sport’s ac­cep­tance into the main stream. Ah­hhh OK but what?! Let’s not kid our­selves. I’m pretty sure the crowd and pun­ters at home just wanted to watch two men beat each other up for as long as pos­si­ble to make the pay-per-view worth it. Which is why the pro­moter used the footage of star McGre­gor smash­ing a UFC bus win­dow as part of the fight night pro­mo­tion.

The pro­mot­ers hap­pily played to their au­di­ence. McGre­gor pleaded guilty to dis­or­derly con­duct in ex­change for com­mu­nity ser­vice. The UFC must have been so busy or­gan­is­ing the fight they ac­ci­den­tally con­doned his ac­tions by do­ing zero.

I un­der­stand the MMA fans’ need for mind­less vi­o­lence. I too love watch­ing the ac­tion with­out get­ting my hands dirty. It’s how I feel when watch­ing the Amer­i­can late night hosts dis­sect­ing Don­ald Trump’s lat­est lie.

So what now we ask or in the me­dia’s case, where to from here? Af­ter read­ing Dana White’s devil-may-care re­sponses to the chaotic scenes I think we can safely as­sume the an­swer is, straight to the bank. Those con­cerned about the sport los­ing its grip on le­git­i­macy are prob­a­bly not on the UFC pay­roll.

It was left to the Ne­vada Ath­letic Com­mis­sion to step into the void left by the UFC when it yes­ter­day sus­pended both McGre­gor and Nur­magome­dov for at least 10 days ef­fec­tive from Oc­to­ber 15. A com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion is pend­ing and the panel can ex­tend the tem­po­rary sus­pen­sion when it meets Oc­to­ber 24,

There’s talk Nur­magome­dov will be stripped of his ti­tle and McGre­gor may even re­tire, al­though I doubt it. If they did change the rules and the code of con­duct the fans would scream bloody PC mur­der which plays nicely into Mr White’s hands. Knock your­selves out guys. I’m head­ing back up to the moral high ground.

AP

Khabib Nur­magome­dov, left, lands a punch to Conor McGre­gor’s throat dur­ing their light­weight ti­tle mixed mar­tial arts bout in Las Ve­gas last Sun­day.

AP

Khabib Nur­magome­dov is held back out­side the cage af­ter fight­ing Conor McGre­gor.

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