Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell has lashed out at the ugly scenes that overshadowed the biggest fight in UFC history.
Khabib Nurmagomedov launched himself into the crowd after beating Conor McGregor at UFC 229, and Liddell was fuming, but not just at the chaos itself.
Liddell took to Instagram to slam not only those involved, but even the UFC for its rewarding of bad behaviour by the promotion prior to the bout.
“Incredible performance by both fighters, (Conor McGregor) and (Khabib Nurmagomedov),” Liddell wrote.
“But to end it like they did was a huge embarrassment to the sport.”
“We (fighters) are sportsmen and champions and we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. We owe it to our fans and the sport itself.
“I don’t know when things started turning into some kind of s— show?
“Unfortunately, when you allow more and more B.S. during weigh ins and outside of fights, you only slap fighters on the wrist for acting like barbarians and then offer them bigger contracts and reward them for this behaviour.
“There is no penalty for their actions and it condones this type of behaviour and consequently our sport loses its sacred respect.”
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The 48-year-old posted a series of images with in-depth analysis of the situation that unfolded.
But perhaps his most powerful message was his insistence to restore a sense of respect to the sport, and most importantly, between the fighters.
“However, this is what you should expect when you start to reward fighters for this kind of behavior and when you use a video of a bus attack to promote a fight,” he wrote.
“This UFC is not what we old timers built with our blood and sweat! It’s unacceptable!”
Why crazy scenes are good for the UFC
At the end of the best/worst night in the UFC’s history, and make no mistake, it’ll prove to be far more best than worst, UFC president Dana White kept expressing his disappointment in how it all turned out.
Well, sort of.
“For the show to end the way that it did, how bad does it hurt us?” White asked before answering his own question. “I don’t know if it hurts us at all. Some people love that [expletive]. But to me, it hurts.”
Indeed, some people do love that, ah, stuff and it’s part of why so many people love the UFC.
Every time you put your money down for a show, you truly never know what you’re going to get.
In this case it was seeing Khabib Nurmagomedov defeat Conor McGregor via tap out in the fourth round and then promptly leap over the Octagon to attack one of McGregor’s corner men.
As all hell broke out in Vegas, two men from Nurmagomedov’s camp jumped into the cage and went after McGregor, who himself was trying to get into the brawl.
One squared off with McGregor from the front, throwing punches. Then from behind, another sucker-punched McGregor, hitting him with four blows.
So why was it good for the UFC?
It was wild and riveting and viral and, like it or not, everything that sells not just in America but around the world.
Was this humiliating, to a degree, for White? Of course. Over the last 18 years he’s poured himself into taking an outlaw sport that was banned in most states and all of pay-per-view and turning it into a legitimate enterprise, a real business. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get past the “human cockfighting” days.
And this, on the biggest pay-per-view the company ever put on, where incredible athletic ability, courage and even sportsmanship had been showcased. In the end though, well, that sure looked like human cockfighting.
“It’s just really disgusting and disappointing to me,” White said.
And it just made his company bigger than ever.
Look, this is a tightrope White has long walked and one he tried to defend late Saturday night. The UFC sells this stuff. The people buy it. Maybe not the idea of Nurmagomedov taking it outside the Octagon, an action that should lead to significant sanctions from the Nevada State Athletic Association.
But the overheated rhetoric. The name-calling. The news conference pushing and weigh-in near brawls. It’s all part of the show.
No one ever really gets punished. Nurmagomedov crossed the line and should pay, but that line is way, way outside the norm to begin with. That’s part of the politically incorrect appeal.
with Yahoo Sports US.