For once the violence in the octagon looked secondary as a mass brawl ensued after Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov retained his UFC lightweight title with a submission win over Conor McGregor on Saturday.
Nurmagomedov jumped out of the cage before leaping feet first at McGregor’s team mate and cornerman Dillon Danis, and three of the Russian’s team were arrested and later released on a black night for a sport that has struggled to win mainstream acceptance for 25 years.
"I saw one of Conor's guys yelling at Khabib, Khabib ran and jumped over the octagon, went after him. Two of Khabib's guys got into the octagon, one guy hit Conor with some shots from behind, and that's it," UFC boss Dana White told a media conference.
“The Nevada State Athletic Commission pulled the footage from us, there’s an investigation going on. They are withholding Khabib’s purse, they are not withholding Conor’s.
“The way that works is Conor is one of the guys who was attacked. Conor refused to press charges. There were three guys from Khabib’s team arrested, and they were released because Conor didn’t want to press charges.”
After a lengthy delay, Nurmagomedov eventually addressed a media conference at the T-Mobile Arena.
“First of all I want to say sorry to athletic commission Nevada, to Vegas, I know this is not my best side. This is not my best side,” he said.
He went on to complain bitterly about McGregor’s behavior in the lead-up to the fight that exacerbated the bad blood between the two teams.
“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 people - what about this?” he asked reporters.
The 30-year-old from Dagestan had mauled former two-weight champion McGregor before the Irishman tapped out to a rear naked choke hold in the fourth round, but that was quickly forgotten in the following melee.
Angry fans of the two fighters brawled in the concourses of the arena as police and security staff struggled to maintain any semblance of order, and violent scuffles continued into the night around the Las Vegas strip.
White said that it would be now up to the Nevada State Athletic Commission to decide if Nurmagomedov would face further sanctions.