The UFC Is In A Lose, Lose Situation With Khabib Nurmagomedov
On Thursday, the Nevada Athletic Commission handed out their suspensions to both Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Conor McGregor. The suspensions are both 10 days in length for now, until a further investigation takes place. The commission has also decided that Khabib's two million dollar paycheck will be withheld until the investigation is complete; meanwhile, McGregor has already received a three million dollar payout from the fight.
This obviously didn't sit too well with the Russian, as he wrote on his Instagram "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."
Khabib's post also contained a long rant regarding the looming suspension of Zubaira Tukhugov. If you've seen the video, Tukhugov is the man from Khabib's team in red that jumps in the ring and sucker punches Conor. He was scheduled to fight McGregor's teammate Artem Lobov in a featherweight tilt later this month, but that fight was subsequently cancelled following his involvement in the brawl.
The UFC is looking into further suspensions for all three aforementioned fighters, but the original thought process was that the UFC would terminate the contract of Tukhugov . That may have changed following the statement that Khabib made which included him saying "if you decide to fire [Zubaira], you should know that you’ll lose me too."
This puts Dana White and the UFC in a difficult spot. I believe that Tukhugov should probably be let go for what he did. He isn't a big name fighter, and the UFC has given him a shot to make a name for himself. He repays them by sucker punching the man known as the UFC's golden boy. Dana White doesn't want to see himself lose millions of dollars because of some low ranked fighter's dumb decisions.
If Dana had the same thought process before the Khabib Instagram post, then he was in the right. The problem now, is that whether he is right or wrong in making that decision, Dana will lose one of the two, maybe three biggest stars in the UFC. On top of that, he will miss out on the opportunity to have the biggest controversy in UFC history come to a boiling point, with McGregor vs. Khabib II.
On the flip side, Khabib has given himself a lot of power with this move. If Dana decides not to release Tukhugov, solely based on the fact that he would lose Khabib, then he will have set a horrible precedent for years to come. From now on, big name fighters will know that they can do whatever they want, because Dana can't afford to lose them.
We've already seen a bit of this with Conor. He was a legend for a few years, becoming the first person to hold a title in multiple weight classes at the same time. He then decided, that was enough; he never defended either one of his titles, and only lost them because he had left the UFC for too long.
He played around with the UFC, doing whatever he wanted for nearly two years before deciding that he wanted to come back. And what did Dana White do when the notorious golden boy showed up at the door? He handed him a title match and dubbed it "the biggest event in UFC history."
So who's to say it can't happen again? He gives into Khabib's demands once, and Khabib has him by the balls for the rest of his career. Maybe he doesn't take the McGregor rematch, maybe he pulls a McGregor and gets a title fight in the welterweight division, maybe he decides he wants to sit on the title and rest until he's ready. No matter what he chooses, the ball is in his court.
Whatever the situation is, Dana White and the UFC can't win. One way, they keep Tukhugov and Dana loses credibility, and never hears the end of it from fans and McGregor's team alike. On the other hand, if he get's rid of him, he also loses a ton of money, something that everyone in this world hates to do.
Personally, I think he's better off biting the bullet and getting rid of the two of them. Yes, Khabib is a generational superstar, but so were Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, BJ Penn, Jon "Bones" Jones, GSP, Rhonda Rousey, Jose Aldo and even Conor McGregor. All of these fighters were great, but what's the one thing they all have in common? Someone has come into the league and passed them as the "poster boy."
So sure, losing Khabib would be a big hit on the bank account. But is sacrificing your dignity worth the price of a few million dollars added to an already massive net worth? I guess we're going to find out.