The morning after the night's chaos and the shock is still evident. Conor McGregor's UFC comeback ended in failure but the fight was overshadowed by what unfolded afterward as UFC 229 climaxed with fighters brawling in and outside the Octogan.
The scenes unfolded mere feet away from the gathered press and left sportswriters with the task of capturing events they would not have foreseen in their wildest dreams.
Joe DePaolo of the Washington Post suggested the disgraceful altercation could operate in McGregor's interest, as it overshadowed his underperformance.
It was a horrific postscript to a fight which should’ve launched Nurmagomedov to superstardom. An emphatic victory over the UFC’s biggest star, McGregor, ought to have culminated with a coronation...
Inside the octagon, he was masterful. The two-time sambo world champion got the fight to the ground within the first 30 seconds – which allowed him to sap McGregor’s strength and neutralize his prolific striking ability.
In a strange way, the post-fight circus managed to take attention off the fact that McGregor was soundly beaten.
Writing for the Ringer, Chuck Mindenhall also emphasised that fact; Conor McGregor lost, again.
With an ugly scene that will make the prudest MMA detractors clutch hard at their pearls, and the UFC second-guess itself for using the footage of McGregor’s dolly incident in April as part of the promo package.
There’s a lot to unpack in an incident like this, but the lasting hysteria of the brawl only temporarily overshadows the original story development of the night—that Conor McGregor, the UFC’s biggest drawing star, lost the bout. Everything about the fight felt epic heading in. Nurmagomedov, a smashing machine of a grappler, was undefeated and pissed.
Tim Dahlberg of the Las Vegas Sun penned a fascinating account that laid much of the blame at the door of UFC President, Dana White.
"But most of the blame should be put directly on White and UFC's new owners for promoting — and profiting from — both a criminal act and trash talk that should be outside any sport — even in a sport that seems to have no standards."
He went on to outline the New York bus attack and White's postering commendation.
A few months later, White was using video from the incident to promote the fight. And a few days before the fight, he stood smiling as McGregor spouted a bizarre conspiracy theory about the Russian's manager and the 9/11 terrorist attacks and then vowed to put a hole in Nurmagomedov's skull.
It was clown behavior, but this is a sport that rewards clown behavior. And that's why both fighters stand to make even bigger money the next time they meet in the cage, something McGregor was already calling for just hours after his loss.
Arash Markazi of ESPN told an interesting anecdote about Nurmagomedov's journey home, which came with little fanfare.
As Khabib Nurmagomedov got on the Terminal 1 tram at McCarran International Airport on Sunday morning, he blended in with all the other travelers making their way back home after a weekend in Las Vegas.
No one bothered him as he zipped up his signature K.N. hoodie with his nickname, "The Eagle," on the back and put on his black UFC backpack. Nurmagomedov was less than 24 hours removed from winning arguably the biggest fight in UFC history but he walked to through the airport unnoticed despite an outfit that screamed, "Hey, I'm a UFC fighter!"
He finished by suggesting Khabib's post-fight actions will delay his journey to the top of the sport.
"Nurmagomedov is on the path to becoming the face of UFC and a crossover star but after Saturday's post-fight incident and pending investigation, he will have to wait for that moment -- and his fight purse -- while he waits on his flight back home, feeling as shortchanged as everyone else leaving Vegas on Sunday morning."
Meanwhile, in Russia, there was no vilification of Nurmagomedov. In the Moscow Times, Alexander Avilov ran a Kremlin statement that said President Vladimir Putin supported champion Khabib Nurmagomedov during the fight. There was also praise forthcoming for what came after the fight.
Gadzhimet Safaraliev, a Russian Duma deputy from Dagestan, expressed support for Nurmagomedov in comments to Govorit Moskva, saying that: "Khabib jumped out of the octagon like a mountain fighter jumps out of a tree on his enemy."
"He answered the insults against his parents and his motherland like a man," he added.
Over in the UK, Josh Gross of The Guardian pondered the damage the brawl would do to the sport.
UFC 229 would appear to be the tipping point that relegates MMA to secondary status in the sports world. On a night McGregor could have gone from Mystic to Mythic he misfired. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov, who touted sport and respect above spectacle and trash talk, showed otherwise.