When the shit hit the fan at UFC 229 earlier this month in Las Vegas, Nevada, it was difficult to see just who was inside the Octagon when former lightweight champion, Conor McGregor, was slugging it out with members of Team Dagestan.
But amid all the security, event officials, and teammates from both SBG Ireland and American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), stood one lone fan — fueled by patriotism — protecting his “Notorious” hero from what could have been certain death.
That’s according to David Martin, a McGregor superfan who leapt over Daniel Cormier to slide into the Octagon after Khabib Nurmagomedov jumped over the cage and started brawling with Dillon Danis (video), because there was no way he was going to sit idly by while his fellow Irishman was outnumbered.
“In reality, if that guy that hit Conor in the head hit him in a different spot, like right-center of the back of the head and it could have been a fatal blow and Conor could have been dead,” Martin told For The Win. “It happens all the time at nightclubs, somebody gets punched right in back of head and it’s a fatal blow. Just because you’re Conor McGregor it doesn’t mean that something like that can’t happen to you. I thought Conor could be killed and those guys were going in to kill him and that’s what I could not have happen.”
McGregor had just been submitted by Nurmagomedov after four rounds of exhausting action when Zubaira Tukhugov and his fellow goons charged at “Notorious” — who was not without fault — once the cageside brawl got underway (watch additional footage here).
“I was talking to [McGregor] and I just held onto him and pushed security away with Kavanagh because he didn’t want them on him too much, he wanted them to back off a bit,” Martin said. “I put an arm on Conor and one on the cage and told him to calm down and breathe. My thing was to calm him down – the last thing I wanted was for Conor to go after everyone.”
Martin may be the only participant to escape repercussions as Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), clearly not amused with the actions of either fighter, is expected to hand down punishments later this month.
Nurmagomedov, who will keep his title in spite of his actions, is expected to remain with UFC after threatening to walk off the job. A timeline for his next title defense, presumably against Tony Ferguson, will depend on the outcome of his NSAC hearing on Oct. 24.