Putin ‘sympathises’ with Khabib over attack on McGregor team

Russian president congratulates MMA fighter on his victory at UFC 229

Vladimir Putin has congratulated Khabib Nurmagomedov on his victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 229, and sympathised with the fighter over his actions at the end of the bout.

The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) has filed a complaint against Nurmagomedov after he leapt from the octagon and fought with one of McGregor's trainers after the fight in Las Vegas on Saturday. Several other men, believed to be members of Nurmagomedov's team, attacked McGregor, although the Irish man declined to press charges over the incident.

Mr Putin appeared to reference McGregor’s behaviour in the build-up to the fight when he met Nurmagomedov on Wednesday. McGregor had previously mocked the Russian fighter’s father, country and religion. “Anyone could have jumped [out of the octagon] in the same way,” said Mr Putin. “If we are attacked from the outside . . . we could all jump in such a way . . . there could be hell to pay.” Mr Putin added that “it’s better not to reach that stage”.

Nurmagomedov has since apologised for his actions and said his father and trainer, Abdulmanap, would “smash me when I get home”.

“I will ask your father not to punish you too strictly, because you achieved the main task, worthily and convincingly,” said Mr Putin.

UFC president Dana White has not ruled out a rematch between McGregor and Nurmagomedov, which would be sure to pull in huge revenues.

“[Nurmagomedov] has to go before the Nevada commission [after his purse from the fight was withheld due to the brawl], and we have to see what’s going to happen with Khabib and this whole mess,” Mr White told ESPN on Monday. “But Conor McGregor has already called me, wanting a rematch.”

Although the UFC have yet to release official pay-per-view figures from Saturday's event, Mr White told TMZ on Monday the event did "way over 2 million" buys, shattering the promotion's record of 1.65 million purchases for the UFC 202 card headlined by McGregor's rematch with Nate Diaz.

“The pay-per-view numbers are starting to roll in, so I’m in a much better mood than I was on Saturday,” Mr White said. “We didn’t do 3 million. But it’s so hard to crack 2 million. Even Tyson-Holyfield was at like 1.995 [million]. Things like that didn’t crack 2 million. We’re way over two million, so I’m happy.” – Guardian