On Saturday night, mixed martial-arts company UFC ran the wildest pro wrestling angle in recent memory.
In the main event of UFC 229, the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov tapped out controversial poster boy Conor McGregor in the fourth round of what was promoted as the “biggest fight in UFC history”. The bout itself was the subplot; the ugly, incendiary aftermath stole wrestling Twitter buzz away from the biggest wrestling company on the planet. Steve Austin tweeted, cheekily, “I love Professional Wrestling”.
He was not referring to the ancient-looking and ancient-feeling main event of WWE’s Super Show-Down.
Nobody gave Khabib a chance in a standing fight. Instead, he took Conor to the floor and rained down brutal blows upon him. Immediately after securing the submission victory, Khabib spat at McGregor and, under apparent provocation from cornerman Dillon Danis, removed his gum shield, and with a fearlessness and recklessness jumped out of the octagon with Finn Bálor’s Coup De Grâce. Utter chaos ensued. In response, Conor and Abubakar Nurmagomedov attempted to join the fray. Entire Twitter threads were subsequently dedicated to the “Who punched first?” conundrum.
Then, in a genuinely unsettling and sinister scene, Nurmagomedov cornermen Zubaira Tukhgov and Islam Makhachev encroached on the octagon and attacked McGregor from behind. This was wild, wild gangland sh*t. It looked like a hit. This wasn’t UFC doing WWE, as the thunderstorm of memes suggested. WWE hasn’t offered anything this unhinged or dangerous or vital in years. This was mafia cinema playing out in the sporting arena.