UFC take outrage all the way to the bank
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.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, left, lands a punch to Conor McGregor’s throat during their lightweight title mixed martial arts bout in Las Vegas last Sunday.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is held back outside the cage after fighting Conor McGregor.