Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Khabib Nurmagomedov’s “convincing” victory in Saturday’s UFC lightweight title against Conor McGregor in Las Vegas, and defended the fighter’s decision to engage in an all-out brawl with McGregor’s entourage.
Nurmagomedov -- who climbed out of the cage after McGregor tapped out and lunged at one of the Irishman’s trainers, igniting a post-fight brawl – might be stripped of his title, and risks losing the entire $2 million prize purse pending an investigation by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Two men from Nurmagomedov’s entourage also ambushed McGregor inside the cage. McGregor defended himself before security personnel rushed in to restore order.
Nurmagomedov, who is now 27-0, apologized to Putin for his actions in the brawl during a meeting Wednesday, telling the Russian president he was provoked after hearing members of McGregor’s corner insulting his father and country.
Ali Abdelaziz, Nurmagomedov’s manager, blamed McGregor for sparking the chaos and called him a “horrible human being,” USA Today reported.
Putin seemed to side with the mixed martial arts fighter, and his decision saying, “not just you, but all of us can jump out like that if assaulted.”
The Russian leader also joked he would ask Nurmagomedov’s father, who said he was going to “smash” him when he gets home, to take it easy.
"I am going to regard this severely," Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, his father, told Ren TV. "I warned him. For me, the most important thing is discipline. You can do whatever you want in the octagon, but beyond its barrier — this is the border separating civilians, there are children, women, bystanders."
Despite the chaotic ending to the night, the pay-per-view was one of UFC’s highest draws in history. The event brought in 20,034 people to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and drew $17.2 million from ticket sales, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“The biggest night ever and I couldn’t be more disappointed,” UFC President Dana White said after the event.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos, Bradford Betz and the Associated Press contributed to this report.