Nurmagomedov mars dominant display
The aftermath to the bout managed to overshadow one of the most acrimonious build-ups to a contest the UFC has seen.
In McGregor’s two years out of the Octagon his one-fight £76m foray into boxing – a defeat to Floyd Mayweather – further built his profile.
Nurmagomedov – now unbeaten in 27 MMA bouts – added to his own reputation by landing the lightweight belt which once belonged to ‘The Notorious’.
When McGregor attacked a bus carrying his rival and UFC staff – prompting a five-day community service charge – the flames were fanned further. Unsurprisingly, the pair refused to touch gloves seconds before the contest.
Actors including Mel Gibson and Matt Damon sat ringside, as did Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy and they saw Nurmagomedov – who began honing his renowned wrestling skills at the age of eight – take his rival down inside a minute.
McGregor – pinned to the cage – survived for four minutes and though his coach told him Nurmagomedov could not improve on his opening five-minute segment, the champion and heavy pre-fight favourite flew out in round two, landing a superb overhand right.
It staggered McGregor, who somehow withstood a ground and pound lasting close to two minutes to again make it to the end of the round.
McGregor had never stopped an opponent after the second round in his UFC career and as he struggled to gain any sort of foothold, it appeared a flash knockout would be his best hope.
He looked more threatening in the third and managed to repel takedown attempts but after again being pinned to the cage in the fourth, he eventually succumbed to a choke.
Nurmagomedov, the first Russian and Muslim to win a UFC title, had delivered a dominant display but his immediate actions changed the mood and narrative instantly.