Last night, millions of MMA fans around the world watched UFC Lightweight Champion “The Eagle” Khabib Nurmagomedov jump over the fence and attack “The Notorious” Conor McGregor’s jiu-jitsu coach, Dillon Danis. The attack provoked a post-fight melee that forced UFC camera people to pan away from the cage in what looked like an attempt to avoid a PR disaster.
Two of the fans watching that fight were Rener and Ryron Gracie, grandsons of the legendary Helio Gracie and members of the family that helped create mixed martial arts.
Needless to say, Rener and Ryron were not pleased.
“Conor lost the fight, Khabib lost the night,” Rener told viewers in the video below.
Rener makes a good point. Yes, Conor lost the fight — interestingly by the very method that caused him to suffer his first UFC loss — but it was Khabib Nurmagomedov who had to leave the cage without his belt and with fans hurling their drinks at him. The Eagle later had his his pay withheld.
The Gracies then pointed out the irony in the fact that UFC 229 had less civility than UFC 1, which took place nearly 25 years ago.
Why is this ironic? Because the UFC wasn’t really a sport then. It was more of a televised street fight, where fighters were simply fined for breaking what few rules there were.
Some fans might argue that stunts like Khabib’s help the sport. After all, The Eagle’s post fight antics no doubt helped the UFC out of the low viewership lull it had been suffering from since some of its biggest draws left the sport. Furthermore, the brawl is certainly going to help build up a rematch between McGregor and Nurmagomedov — and yes, there will almost certainly be a rematch.
But those fans still forget that there are people out there who want to see mixed martial arts banned. Decades after the late John McCain referred to MMA as human cockfighting, some activists still criticize the sport for what they see as its gratuitous violence. And though mixed martial arts is far more powerful than it was when Royce Gracie fought Ken Shamrock for the first time, it’s not nearly as powerful as boxing or other popular sports. Antics like Khabib’s — and Conor’s before him — help to justify the claims of MMA’s opponents and strengthen the chances that mixed martial arts will go the way of the dodo.
Mixed martial arts needs to show the world that it is a legitimate and respectable sport, not a glorified fight club. UFC fighters would be wise to leave their fisticuffs inside the cage.
Update: Rener Gracie contacted the Jiu-Jitsu Times and asked us to include the following additional statement:
“I want to amend/clarify something I said in the Gracie Breakdown: ‘…according to the fans, if it happens before the fight, it’s acceptable fight hype, but if it happens after, it’s disrespectful.’ Even though this is the widespread belief in MMA culture, it does not mean it’s right. If we’re going to allow ALL lines to be crossed by one side in the buildup of a fight, then we can’t act surprised when the other side crosses the line after the fight. Even though it was sad to see Khabib’s moment ruined after a spectacular performance, his actions should serve as one of two valuable lesson to everyone in MMA – 1) Fighters, fans, coaches and promoters need to reconsider what we perceive as “acceptable” when it comes to promoting a fight between two athletes, or 2) If “anything goes” before the fight, then fighter, fans, coaches and promoters need to be ready to deal with the consequences after the fight.”
McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov (UFC 229 Gracie Breakdown) How the biggest fight in UFC history became the biggest disaster in UFC history, and what it all means for MMA after 25 years. Share if you agree.New York City and Toronto, click here: GracieUniversity.com/SeminarsEveryone else, find a Certified Training Center at GracieUniversity.com.
Posted by Gracie Breakdown on Sunday, October 7, 2018