Martial arts body slammed for double standards and indifference to Islamophobia

26th Oct 2018
Martial arts body slammed for double standards and indifference to Islamophobia

Undefeated lightweight UFC  champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was subject to a torrent of Islamophobic abuse from fellow fighter Conor McGregor (Photo: BattleBeetle/Youtube/ Wiki CC)

Nadine Osman

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) officials have been accused of turning a blind eye to and even exploiting the Islamophobia that fuelled the brawl at the end of the Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor fight.

The fight on October 6 ended in a resounding victory for reigning lightweight champion Nurmagomedov who mauled and humiliated the Irish showman who had spent months hurling Islamophobic abuse at him and his team.

Nurmagomedov, a devout Muslim from Russia’s Dagestan region, was heavily criticised after he jumped over the Octagon and fought with McGregor’s jiu-jitsu coach Dillon Danis. Three members of Nurmagomedov’s entourage also entered the Octagon and fought with McGregor when he struck one of them first.

According to media reports Danis sparked the brawl in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas when he shouted something at Nurmagomedov.

An eyewitness told TMZ Danis had been shouting “f***ing Muslim rat” at the Russian before Nurmagomedov lost control of his anger. The accusations were cemented by the fact that a day before the fight Danis captioned a photo of himself with McGregor ‘tomorrow when you spark this backwards c**t out cold, all the blood sweat & tears will be worth it! got your back all the way brotha [sic]!!’

Nurmagomedov was not presented with his belt and his winner’s purse withheld.

However, it was UFC President, Dana White, voicing his “disgust” at the incident that prompted outcries of hypocrisy and double standards.

“I’m just disgusted and sick over it. God knows what the Commission is going to do to Khabib and his guys. Will they even get a visa again to get back in this country? There’s a lot of repercussions from what they did tonight, ones I don’t even think they realize yet,” said White.

Fans, pundits and pros alike took to social media to accuse White of not only ignoring McGregor’s continuous Islamophobic behaviour but of profiting from it.

In April, McGregor was filmed throwing a metal dolly at a bus on which Nurmagomedov was travelling, injuring two fighters. Yet not only did the UFC decide not to punish McGregor but instead featured the clip of his attack in a promo video for the fight.

Fellow UFC fighter Corey Anderson said, “It’s funny how when Conor attacked the bus it was ‘Conor does what he wants!’…It was funny while Conor was talking about his family. Now it’s ‘OMG the Russians are monsters and should be deported and stripped of visas’.. #getreal #UFC229”.

Heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, who trains with Nurmagomedov in California said, “Some things aren’t for fight promotion. Religion, family, country.”

Comedian and actor Corey Holcomb branded White “a typical racist …Conor stays doing dirt but his visa has never been brought up? ..”

White was also present during all the pre-fight press conferences including the one on September 20 where McGregor referred to Nurmagomedov’s as a “Dagestani rat” and his Egyptian manager Ali Abdelaziz as a terrorist.

UFC fan @Zakinho7 tweeted: ‘McGregor got away with racism calling Floyd’s security a monkey, calling Khabib’s team terrorists and breaking buses as well as attempting to kick Khabib in the weigh-in and what did Dana do? F**k all. But Khabib is risking visa suspension etc. I prefer not to speak #UFC229.’

Another fan called Mysti‏ tweeted: ‘Ppl [sic] cut the sanctimonious BS about 2 wrongs not making a right. Dana gave the green light for the clip of Conor attacking the bus to be used for #UFC229 promo but is now withholding Khabib’s money on the premise he’s disgusted by @TeamKhabib?’

White was even filmed laughing as McGregor called Nurmagomedov a “mad backwards c**t” for refusing to drink whisky. A week later McGregor upped the ante by tweeting an image of himself drinking captioned with ‘chilling in Jahanum [Quranic word for hell].’

The Executive Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations-Arizona, Imraan Siddiqi, tweeted: “Not condoning the melee after the fight, but the way the UFC props up Conor’s antics as a ‘showman’ – even though he’s done far more egregious stuff than Khabib’s folks tonight.”

Nurmagomedov apologised to the fans and the Nevada State Athletic Commission insisting, “This is not my best side”.

However, by October 11 tensions between Nurmagomedov and the UFC escalated when the undefeated champion threatened to quit if his teammate Zubaira Tukhugov is fired for attacking McGregor immediately after the fight.

Nurmagomedov accused the UFC of double standards and asked why they failed to take any action against Conor and his team when they, “attacked the bus and injured a couple of people? They could have killed someone there, why no one says anything about insulting my homeland, religion, nation, family? Why do you have to punish my team, when both teams fought. If you say that I started it, then I do not agree, I finished what he had started.”

“Punish me, Zubaira Tukhugov has nothing to do with that. If you think that I’ll keep silent then you are mistaken. You cancelled Zubaira’s fight [against Artem Lobov] and you want to dismiss him just because he hit Conor. But don’t forget that it was Conor who had hit my brother first, just check the video.”

“If you decide to fire him, you should know that you’ll lose me too… you can keep my money that you are withholding… We have defended our honour and this is the most important thing. We intend to go to the end.”

The NSAC revealed that both fighters are to be temporarily suspended for 10 days from October 15 until the hearing is completed and McGregor is “likely” to be punished for his role in the mayhem.

McGregor and Nurmagomedov will learn if they are to be indefinitely suspended on October 24. McGregor has yet to apologise for his part in the row.

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