BANGOR – It was a fight for the ages. Khabib vs. McGregor.
Bigger than anything MMA has ever seen during and most certainly after the the fight.
“Been doing this for 18 years and on the biggest night ever, I couldn’t be more disappointed,” UFC President Dana White said after the fight.
After Khabib submitted McGregor in the fourth round he hopped out the cage and attacked a member of McGregor’s team, while two members of Khabib’s team jumped McGregor in the cage.
McGregor’s trash talking and attacks on Khabib’s religion and family leading up to the fight pushed the Russian champ over the edge.
“Sorry to athletic commision Nevada, sorry to Vegas. I know this is not my best side,” Nurmagomedov said after the fight.
“It was a bad representation of our sport I think with that many eyes watching,” CES featherweight champion Bruce Boyington said.
But the numbers and dollars don’t lie. While it may have been the most disgraceful night in the promotion’s history, it was also the most lucrative.
According to Tapology, five of the top six UFC pay per views had featured McGregor. UFC 229 smashed the previous record with a staggering 2.4 million buys.
“You end up making more money when you’re talking,” Boyington said.
McGregor and Khabib have drawn a new line, one that the sport has never seen. Trash talk and you have a chance to make millions. Don’t and you may get lost.
“If this becomes the norm and this is what you have to do to make it in the sport right now, that’s a frustrating thing,” Young’s MMA owner Chris Young said.
“I know that fighters sit in front of the camera when they have that camera time they say hey this is my opportunity to gain some fans,” Boyington said.
It’s not how local fighters at Young’s MMA are approaching the sport.
“But the whole thing is you have respect for your opponent it doesn’t matter who it is. You have respect for their skills and they have respect for you and I think that’s kind of getting lost,” Young’s MMA fighter Glory Watson said.
Young fought to get the sport legalized almost two decades ago and is hoping it can re-discover it’s most sacred virtue.
“We had to fight for respect for it and generally speaking all the events I ever competed in, everyone there every fighter we had this comradery because we just wanted to be able to do this. We were just happy that we had a venue to do it,” Young said.
The sport is at a fork in the road. It’s raking in the dollars, but its poster man has given the sport a black eye. With his mainstream popularity only it begs the question. Would you let your child look up to Conor McGregor?
“If all you want is money than yes. If you want to actually have something that you want people to model themselves after and respect than no,” Young’s MMA fighter Aaron Lacey said.
The landscape of the sport could change drastically in the next few months. A new deal with ESPN is about to kick in, it’s most marketable and most dominant fighters may be suspended indefinitely. It’ll survive though because of the desire and will to compete.
“In the end I wouldn’t even be doing this sport, we wouldn’t have it if there wasn’t a pinnacle to it. If there wasn’t a UFC and a place where guys were getting paid,” Boyington said.