McGregor has long been one of the most divisive figures in sports, due to his antics outside of the UFC cage. Many fans, however, have pointed out that the Irishman has had his fair share of shenanigans in the octagon, most notably during his title fight against then-UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov.
As Nurmagomedov successfully defended his title, the topic did not become a major talking point. Cheating is still frowned upon in professional sport, and any who engage in it should be scrutinised closely by authorities.
So, what were McGregor’s illegal moves against Nurmagomedov?
Conor McGregor grabbed the cage
Nurmagomedov’s game plan has always been to go for the takedown and overpower his rivals with ground strikes and submission attempts. McGregor seems to have attempted to neutralize Nurmagomedov’s offense by using some dirty tricks.
“When a fighter’s fingers or toes go through the cage and grab hold of the fence and start to control either their body position or their opponent’s body position it now becomes an illegal action,” the Unified Rules of MMA state.
McGregor took the cage in round two to defend against Nurmagomedov’s suffocating barrage.
Cage-grabbing is a common foul in MMA since fighters instinctively grab everything they can when they’re about to be taken to the ground.
McGregor, on the other hand, purposefully caught the cage with his toes in order to prevent Nurmagomedov from completing a kimura attempt. Referee Herb Dean, perplexingly, dismissed McGregor’s antics on several occasions.
McGregor pulled Khabib’s shorts
In the first round, Khabib wasted no time looking for a takedown. But it took a while for ‘The Eagle’ to successfully take McGregor to the ground because the Irishman was still clutching Khabib’s trunks.
The UFC’s Unified MMA Rules note that fighters are not permitted to snatch an opponent’s shorts or gloves.
It states the following: “A fighter may not control their opponent’s movement by holding onto their opponent’s shorts or gloves. A fighter may hold onto or grab their opponent’s hand as long as they are not controlling the hand only by using the material of the glove, but by actually gripping the hand of the opponent. It is legal to hold onto your own gloves or shorts.”
Once the Dagestani had McGregor’s back on the mat, the Irishman held on to his trunks, preventing the champion from advancing to a more dominant position.
McGregor’s illegal strikes
Multiple disqualifications have resulted from illegal strikes in the UFC. Jon Jones lost his first and only fight when he crushed Matt Hamill with a 12 to 6 elbow kick. Petr Yan recently lost his UFC bantamweight belt after kneeing a grounded Aljamain Sterling in the back.
McGregor’s action was ignored.
The man from Ireland blasted Khabib with a 12 to 6 o’clock elbow to the side of the head when defending against Khabib’s takedown. Not once, but twice!
On the ground, McGregor stung Khabib with a sly knee strike to the head, which is an illegal manoeuvre since both combatants are on the ground.
McGregor escaped disqualification or even a point deduction through numerous fouls.