Khabib Nurmagomedov returned to Russia after his dominant victory over Conor McGregor in UFC 229 and, as Inquisitr reported, starting a post-fight brawl inside T-Mobile Center in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, the UFC star met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who not only congratulated Nurmagomedov on his victory but appeared to blame McGregor for the ensuing near-riot.
The massive brawl started when Nurmagomedov — better known by his given name “Khabib” — leaped over the octagon fence to attack a member of McGregor’s team, as Inquisitr reported. But Putin appeared to excuse the fighter’s actions — which are still under investigation by Nevada authorities — telling Khabib that he believed the fighter was the victim of a provocation.
“Not just you, but all of us can jump out like that if assaulted,” the Russian ruler told Khabib, according to a Daily Mail account of the meeting.
When Khabib told Putin that he hoped the Nevada State Athletic Commission would “rule in our favor,” Putin laughed and responded, “We all understand that is was a provocation,” according to The Express newspaper.
“I’m sure your father understands that too,” Putin continued in the Wednesday meeting. “It was done to provoke you and use it against you in the fight.”
While Putin seemed to mildly admonish Khabib for leaping over the octagon fence, saying, “No matter what happens, we need to avoid rashness like charging someone, regardless of what’s going on.” Putin also again appeared to reference provocations from the McGregor team to excuse the Dagestan-born fighter’s instigation of the brawl.
“If we are attacked from the outside, not only you, we could all jump in such a way,” Putin said, according to a translation by the Russian state-run media outlet RT. “There could be hell to pay. But it’s better not to reach that stage.”
Interestingly, Putin has also shown favor toward McGregor, personally inviting the Irish UFC superstar to attend the FIFA World Cup Final in Moscow, where the two met in person and posed for photographs.
Following the meeting, McGregor called Putin “one of the greatest leaders of our time,” in an Instagram post.
Many of McGregor’s fans expressed outrage at the fighter’s endorsement of the Russian strongman who has been accused of numerous human rights violations and assassinations of political opponents and journalists.
“The man murders people. Hacked the last American election. And oppresses the LGBTQ community,” wrote one fan on Twitter in July, according to Sport Bible. “I hope your next opponent cracks you open and beats you to a pulp.”
With Khabib’s crushing defeat of McGregor on Saturday, that fan appears to have seen his wish granted.