The Nevada Athletic Commission on Tuesday suspended UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov nine months and fined him $500,000 for igniting a brawl after beating former champion Conor McGregor at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena in October.
McGregor, who threw a punch at one of Nurmagomedov’s cornermen, was suspended six months and fined $50,000.
The commission gave Nurmagomedov the opportunity to reduce his suspension to six months if he makes an anti-bullying public-service announcement.
The suspensions are retroactive, so if Nurmagomedov’s is reduced, both men could resume fighting after April 6. If Nurmagomedov’s ban stands, he could return for the UFC’s high-profile International Fight Week card July 6 in Las Vegas.
Two of Nurmagomedov’s cornermen, his cousin Abubakar and former UFC fighter Zubaira Tukhugov, received 12-month suspensions and $25,000 fines for their roles in the episode.
Khabib Nurmagomedov said he went after McGregor’s cornerman and training partner, Dillon Danis, because Danis directed a slur at him. The melee spilled into the gallery between the octagon and the crowd.
The brawl was the second incident of violence sparked by the fighters. In April, McGregor was charged with a felony in New York for orchestrating an attack on a bus occupied by Nurmagomedov, injuring two fighters with broken glass. That incident resulted in a plea agreement but no further discipline.
The commission said it did not consider the Brooklyn incident in handing down McGregor’s discipline, but members said they frowned on the behavior and Bennett said “we should rein it in.”
While the suspensions apply only in Nevada, other states’ athletic commissions historically have honored such bans, as has the UFC.
Jones to headline UFC 235
Jon Jones will return to headline UFC 235 in Las Vegas after the NSAC approved a one-fight license that will subject the light-heavyweight champion to rigorous performance-enhancing drug testing.
Jones was denied a license for his comeback fight in December when a drug test revealed trace amounts of the PED he’d been suspended for in 2017. As a result, the entire UFC 232 card was moved from Las Vegas to the Forum, where Jones regained his belt with a unanimous-decision victory over Alexander Gustafsson.
Commission Chairman Anthony Marnell said Jones must submit to at least twice-monthly testing by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, ongoing random testing by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Assn. and unannounced tests ordered twice a month or more by the commission.
Jones (23-1) is scheduled to meet Anthony Smith (31-13) on March 2 in the main event of UFC 235, a card that includes a welterweight title defense by Tyron Woodley against Kamaru Usman, and unbeaten welterweight Ben Askren’s UFC debut versus former champion Robbie Lawler.