LAS VEGAS – The ugly scenes that unfolded at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night have no place in sports.
The carnage that followed Khabib Nurmagomedov’s main event victory over Conor McGregor was violent, unethical, pathetic and moronic. It sets a poor example. It shouldn’t have happened. People will call it disgusting, and they won’t be wrong. If we want clichés, yes, it is a black eye for mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Will it cost the UFC a single penny financially? Not even. Not one.
Sports, heck – the world – is in a strange place in 2018. You might think that having chaotic images of hooliganism beamed around the globe from a night that was the most-watched pay per view in company history would deliver a damaging blow to the UFC’s popularity.
You wouldn’t be silly for thinking it, such logic makes perfect basic sense. You’d just be wrong.
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People aren’t so secretive about their guilty pleasures any more. They wear them like a badge of honor. Remember that time when a big controversy featuring violence and criminal activity was used to dramatically boost PPV numbers for a major UFC card?
You should, it was for this fight, when McGregor’s notorious Brooklyn bus attack was parlayed into incessant preview fodder and the lead-in video show for the fight was gleefully titled “Bad Blood.”
A few people quietly questioned whether such promotional tactics were appropriate, but that was all. You’ll have a hard time finding anyone who boycotted the card because of it. If you’re willing to make peace with watching two individuals try to smash each other to a pulp for entertainment, you’re probably not going to pull the plug because a dude threw a dolly at a bus. Or now, because things got seriously messy with scraps and sucker punches and what amounted to a street fight in the stadium following McGregor’s fourth-round tap-out.
By leaping over the cage after the fight and letting his fists fly at McGregor’s teammates, Nurmagomedov became that most profitable of things – relevant. Something’s warped here when infamy sells far more successfully than excellence, but that’s exactly how it is, like it or weep. That’s not the UFC, that’s life as we know it.
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