Latest Khabib threat goes nuclear
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has threatened to quit the promotion as the fallout to his ugly post-match brawl with Conor McGregor's camp continues.
A friend and teammate of Khabib's, fighter Zubaira Tukhugov, was revealed to be the man who jumped the cage and sucker punched McGregor while the Irishman was unawares.
The act disgusted the sporting world as one of the darkest moments in UFC history played out.
President Dana White pulled the pin on Tukhugov's next fight scheduled on the 27th October before revealing he was considering banning him completely.
That didn't sit well with Khabib.
In a lengthy address to his employer, the 30-year-old Russian star blasted the UFC for apparent double standards.
"I would like to address @ufc. Why didn't you fire anyone when their team attacked the bus and injured a couple of people?" Khabib wrote on Instagram, referencing McGregor's bus attack in April this year.
"They could have killed someone there, why no one says anything about insulting my homeland, religion, nation, family? Why do you have to punish my team, when both teams fought. If you say that I started it, then I do not agree, I finished what he had started."
The undefeated lightweight, who is now one of Dana White's biggest drawcards, threatened to quit the promotion if his teammate is squeezed out.
But perhaps the biggest sign the Russian meant business was in his next line.
"You can keep my money that you are withholding. You are pretty busy with that, I hope it won't get stuck in your throat. We have defended our honour and this is the most important thing" he said.
I would like to address @ufc Why didn't you fire anyone when their team attacked the bus and injured a couple of people? They could have killed someone there, why no one says anything about insulting my homeland, religion, nation, family? Why do you have to punish my team, when both teams fought. If you say that I started it, then I do not agree, I finished what he had started. In any case, punish me, @zubairatukhugov has nothing to do with that. If you think that I’ll keep silent then you are mistaken. You canceled Zubaira’s fight and you want to dismiss him just because he hit Conor. But don’t forget that it was Conor who had hit my another Brother FIRST, just check the video. if you decide to fire him, you should know that you’ll lose me too. We never give up on our brothers in Russia and I will go to the end for my Brother. If you still decide to fire him, don’t forget to send me my broken contract, otherwise I'll break it myself. And one more thing, you can keep my money that you are withholding. You are pretty busy with that, I hope it won’t get stuck in your throat. We have defended our honor and this is the most important thing. We intend to go to the end. #Brothers
UFC double champion Daniel Cormier sided with Khabib on Twitter, praising his dedication to his teammates.
"Let em fight @danawhite," he posted. "Manage the riff raff and let these two fight!!!!! Good sh** Khabib."
Once again two wrongs. Zub was wrong, Artem at bus was wrong. They hate each other so much. Let em fight!!! And how could y’all not appreciate this level of loyalty for Khabib. It’s crazy. Walk away from millions and the UFC! No1 does that!— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 11, 2018
ESPN MMA journalist Ariel Helwani confirmed Khabib had not been paid on SportsCenter Friday morning (AEDT).
"Nurmagomedov has still yet to be paid his purse. According to sources, even though McGregor has been paid it is likely he will also receive a sanction for jumping on the cage and reacting physically," he said.
Tukhugov's would-be opponent, a friend and teammate of McGregor's named Artem Lobov, confirmed the UFC had squashed their bout after the post-fight riot in Las Vegas.
"The fight is cancelled due to the riots at UFC 229," Lobov's management said. "Artem will get a new opponent."
McGregor and Khabib were slapped with 10-day bans by the Nevada Athletic Commission after the brawl.
The latest development came a day after Khabib met with Russian president Vladimir Putin, who sympathised with his decision to mount the cage and fly kick McGregor's teammate Dillon Danis after winning.
The pair met face-to-face for the first time since the weekend's madness in an interview on Russian TV. Throwing out the signature hoodie, a suited-up Khabib sat with his father and was showered with praise by his President for his "worthy and convincing" triumph over the Irishman.
The 66-year-old politician sympathised with Khabib's explosive reaction after claiming victory, which saw him launch a fly kick at McGregor's training partner Dillon Danis.
"Anyone could have jumped (from the Octagon) in the same way," Putin said of Khabib's brain snap.
"If we are attacked from the outside, not only you, we could all jump in such a way … there could be hell to pay. But it's better not to reach that stage."
Khabib's meeting with Putin followed his glorious homecoming, which saw over 10,000 people swarm a football stadium to watch him give a speech after landing in Russia.
It came a day after the lightweight champion walked almost unnoticed through Las Vegas airport on his way to board his flight.