After the madness from UFC 229’s wild ending and post-fight melee settled, there was the business of news conferences to attend to.
And even though he didn’t get his belt in the Octagon, Khabib Nurmagomedov was the defending lightweight UFC champion when all was said and done. And it earned him a congratulatory phone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Khabib takes no questions, says Putin called
Khabib ended his no-questions-asked media session with a big smile on his face while talking about the call from Putin.
“I’m very proud about, all media talk about he take picture with Putin,” Khabib said. “He just called me and he said he’s very proud of me. I win, and he said congratulations.”
From there he put on his trademark hat, draped his title belt on his shoulder and posed for the cameras before walking off.
But before, he spent most of the rest of his time at the podium criticizing McGregor and his team for baiting him into the attack that saw him jump out of the Octagon and take on McGregor’s jiu-jitsu coach Dillon Danis.
He did start with an apology, though.
“First of all, I want to say sorry to athletic commission, Nevada, sorry to Vegas,” Khabib said. “I know this is not my best side. This is not my best side. I am human being.”
Khabib takes on Conor McGregor’s trash talk
He quickly moved the focus to McGregor.
“I don’t understand how people talk about I jump on the cage,” Khabib said. “What about he talk about my religion, he talk about my country, he talk about my father?
“He come to Brooklyn, and he broke bus, he almost killed a couple of people. What about this, what about this s—? Why people talk about I jump over the cage? Why people still talk about this?”
McGregor traffics in culture and race baiting as fighting’s great talkers are wont to do while promoting events. Before the fight, he called Khabib’s manager a “terrorist snitch.” He and his team clearly pushed Khabib too far.
Khabib calls for respect
Khabib called for respect in the fight game that he feels he didn’t get and blamed media for playing a role.
“Media a little bit changed MMA,” Khabib said. “This is respect sport. This is not trash-talking sport. I want to change this game. I don’t want people to talk s— about, like opponents, talk s— about his father, like religion. You cannot talk about religion, you cannot talk about nation. Guys, you cannot talk about this stuff. Guys for me, this is very important.”
But in the end, Khabib had his belt and his phone call from Putin. Regardless of everything else around the fight, these were the things that mattered most to Khabib.
More UFC 229 coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Kevin Iole: Crazy scene erupts after Khabib submits Conor
• Dan Wetzel: Despite ugly scene, UFC will gladly cash in
• UFC skips ceremony after Khabib’s attack
• Dana White: Khabib’s fight check withheld