A newly surfaced video taken during the bizarre mini-riot that took place at UFC 229 — after lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated former champ Conor McGregor by tap-out — shows a seemingly random, well-dressed fan jumping onto the edge of the octagon and then actually running inside through an open gate. As it turns out, according to the USA Today sports site For The Win, the man was a McGregor fan from the ex-champ’s hometown of Dublin, Ireland. Apparently, the super-fan felt compelled to enter the octagon and to save his hero — or at least try.
FTW first picked up the story from UFC heavyweight champ — and top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter — Daniel Cormier, who is also a training partner and friend of Nurmagomedov. Cormier told the strange story of what he witnessed inside the T-Mobile Center in Las Vegas to the ESPN podcast Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on October 15.
“There’s a guy behind me, he’s wearing this nice jacket…. So he’s standing behind me and he goes, ‘Who do you got in the fight?’ This guy’s completely not into the game, right? So I go, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna go Khabib.’ So after the fight, when we all jumped the rail, I’m like in the octagon pushing, and the guy’s like checking on Conor,” Cormier recounted via YouTube during his ESPN podcast interview. “He was just like a fan that jumped the rail when everyone else jumped the rail and got all the way to the octagon — he was like checking on Conor. I [later] asked my wife, ‘Salina, what happened with that guy, was he with McGregor?’ She goes, ‘Daniel, after he went and checked to make sure Conor was OK he just got back in his seat.'”
Watch video showing the sportjacket-clad fan entering the octagon, below.
The USA Today sports site was able to track down the fan, discovering that he was 41-year-old David Martin who, like McGregor, hails from Ireland. Martin told FTW that it was his love for Ireland that motivated him to enter the octagon.
“I wouldn’t say adrenaline took over,” Martin said in the October 16 interview. “I’d say patriotism took over first. I thought Russia was attacking Ireland. I thought a bunch of Russians were jumping in and this guy [McGregor] was tired and beaten down from the fight and was being attacked by what I thought were a bunch of Russian fans.”
Martin himself later posted video of his rush into the octagon on his own Twitter account.
“When one of us goes to war, we all go to war,” Martin told FTW. “That’s the patriotic thing to do. I wasn’t going in to fight but to protect a defenseless man who could have been assaulted.”
But Martin added that despite the media attention now directed his way, he has yet to hear from the man he was attempting to save — McGregor himself.