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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018

Conor McGregor tapped out by Khabib Nurmagomedov before event descends into mayhem

Khabib stays unbeaten but there’ll be repercussions for the champion after he kicked off ugly scenes in Vegas.

Gavan Casey reports from the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV DOMINATED Conor McGregor en route to a fourth-round submission of the former champion, but his outstanding performance in the octagon will forever be overshadowed by the outrageous events which followed his title defence.

UFC 229 Mixed Martial Arts Khabib was in control throughout the bout. Source: John Locher

Nurmagomedov caused a mass brawl near McGregor’s corner after tapping out ‘The Notorious’ Dubliner, sparking disgraceful scenes which culminated in the beaten McGregor being physically assaulted by a member of the Russian’s team.

Both men would ultimately be escorted from the arena as a capacity crowd at the T-Mobile Arena came to terms with a night rendered unforgettable for the wrong reasons.

On his way to the octagon earlier in the night, McGregor cut a figure who, if not quite conspicuously nervous, certainly seemed cognisant of the mammoth task at hand — his most perilous in the octagon.

Champion Khabib warmed up frantically on his side of the cage, McGregor all the while walking, watching, stalking.

UFC 229 Mixed Martial Arts Source: John Locher

Both men pointedly refused to touch gloves upon invitation by referee Herb Dean.

McGregor started on the front foot, landing a solid left before immediately being confronted by a prolonged Nurmagomedov takedown attempt.

‘The Notorious’ was eventually grounded but defended himself diligently, clearly conserving energy as Khabib negotiated his way past the Crumlin man’s guard.

For over four minutes, Khabib dominated from the top without inflicting much damage.

Lift-off in round two, almost literally for the Irishman: Khabib, the significantly less proficient striker, dropped McGregor with a nuclear overhand right.

He assumed control again on the ground, delivering such a sustained barrage halfway through the round that Dean would have been within his rights to stop it.

UFC 229 Mixed Martial Arts Source: John Locher

McGregor — incredibly — fought his way back to his feet with seconds remaining in a frightening sophomore stanza.

He found some rhythm behind the throwaway jab to begin the third, which was in its own right an astonishing round. The crowd erupted as McGregor fended off a takedown attempt, and their chorus was perpetuated by a minute of rock-em-sock-em stuff; Khabib stood right in front of the lightweight division’s most fearsome striker and gave as good as he got, at one stage growing so confident as to slap McGregor — and then to point out that he had slapped him.

McGregor was fast discovering that the Dagestani’s jaw is composed of granite as opposed to glass, and finished the round fending off more efforts to take him to the canvas.

The bell to end the third saw Nurmagomedov follow McGregor across the octagon, yapping, snarling, smirking.

The champion seized his moment in round four, ending the torture by way of neck crank. McGregor, resigned from the moment Khabib took his back and locked on, tapped and remained seated as Nurmagomedov lorded victory over him despite Herb Dean’s best efforts.

And then all hell broke loose. ‘The Eagle’ fired his gumshield in the direction of McGregor’s team before climbing out of the octagon and attacking Dillon Danis, sparking a brawl in the process.

Back in the cage, as McGregor came to terms with his defeat, he was blindsided by a member of Khabib’s team who physically assaulted him.

The place was going mad.

Nurmagomedov was eventually restrained somewhere amid the chaos, but his crowning moment had quickly turned poisonous. When he eventually re-entered the octagon himself, he was booed wildly by just about every fan in the building; as he was ushered out of the arena minutes later following heated discussions with Dana White and co — largely in relation to the location of his title belt — he was pelted with drinks by McGregor supporters.

UFC 229 Mixed Martial Arts Source: John Locher

McGregor himself, meanwhile, so often the agent of chaos, could only watch on as his conqueror outdid him in the outrage stakes.

By the time Bruce Buffer took the mic to officially confirm Khabib’s win, which came three minutes and three seconds into round four, both fighters had long since been shepherded out of the arena.

It was a bitter fight promotion fuelled by what Dana White described as the most disgraceful incident in the history of the UFC. Tonight, the organisation earned itself a new contender.

Khabib, meanwhile, remains lightweight champion.

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‘Conor saw me, we locked eyes, and he was like, ‘Oh sh**’ – I saw that in him’

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