The story should have been that Khabib Nurmagomedov is the king of the UFC lightweight division. He soundly defeated former champion Conor McGregor in the main event Saturday night at UFC 229.
But Khabib's great performance in the Octagon is overshadowed by his conduct after the fight. He started yelling at one of McGregor's cornermen and threw his mouthpiece. He jumped over the cage and charged after Dillon Danis, McGregor's teammate.
Inside the cage, McGregor exchanged shots with members of Khabib's team. It was an ugly scene, and one that won't be forgotten. As UFC marks its 25th anniversary this year, this will go down as one of the most infamous moments in the promotion's history.
The question after UFC 229 is what now? Will Khabib face any punishment? Will he be stripped of his lightweight title?
There is only one person who can answer those questions, and that's UFC boss Dana White.
White deferred to the legal system when McGregor threw a dolly at Khabib's bus in April, an incident that added fuel to an already roaring fire. While McGregor faced criminal charges, he didn't get any sort of discipline from UFC.
Think about if this was the NFL, NBA, MLB or even the NHL, where fighting is permitted. If an athlete in one of those leagues did what McGregor did, they would face a certain suspension and/or fine. But UFC didn't do that with McGregor, and Saturday's melee proved why that wasn't smart.
Khabib raised valid points in his brief post-fight press conference. McGregor did take liberties with comments about Khabib's ethnicity, religion and other verbal jabs. White chalked it up to the "fight game," but McGregor has been known to cross some lines with his pre-fight mind games.
But that's no reason for Khabib to spark a brawl that spills out into the arena. And make no mistake: He started it. UFC commentator Joe Rogan has pointed the finger at Danis for making some comments outside the Octagon. But that still doesn't justify Khabib jumping out of the Octagon and recklessly attacking another individual who was surrounded by several other people, including police officers and security, at ringside.
As the saying goes, two wrongs don't make a right. McGregor was wrong. Khabib was wrong. McGregor had to face the music in the form of criminal charges and the court system. Maybe Khabib won't face that same dilemma, but he should face punishment from UFC.
It's time for White to lay down the law. Yes, there are other entities involved. The Nevada Athletic Commission will have something to say about what happened. Three members of Khabib's team were reportedly arrested, but White said McGregor declined to press charges.
UFC should have a say, too. As a promotion, they need to denounce this conduct (which White, in so many words, has done) and they need to levy punishment.
What should happen with Khabib? He should be stripped of the lightweight title. He allowed his emotions to get the best of him after a great performance, and he was wrong. He, like McGregor, must live with the consequences. You can't spark brawls that put others in harm's way. What he did was reckless and outside of sport. He needs to pay a price.
White needs to establish a precedent here that this kind of conduct won't be tolerated. Otherwise, what's stopping another fighter from doing the same? And if they know that White will just defer to the athletic commission, why wouldn't they act knowing UFC won't touch them?
That shouldn't be the case. It's time for White to send a message, and it begins with stripping Khabib of the title.